Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said he would block plans by the Emir of Qatar to renovate a 17th century mansion on the French capital's exclusive Saint-Louis island, saying it's "a real threat" to the city's heritage.
"This is a real threat to a gem of Paris' heritage, the only private house from the end of Louis the XIII's reign that remains untouched," Delanoe wrote in a letter to Culture Minister Christine Albanel this week. "I want this plan to be reconsidered, taking the time for a thorough examination."
Qatar's Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani bought the mansion at the tip of the Paris island in 2007 from the Rothschild family for a reported $112 million. According to the Vieux Paris association that protects the city's heritage and works with the mayor's office, the new owner plans to build elevators, add rooms, bathrooms and underground parking at the building that's part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Albanel responded that the government has taken necessary care "to monitor the renovation of this listed monument," according to a copy of comments e-mailed by her press office Wednesday. She said that the sheik hired architect Alain-Charles Perrot to complete the work, "a proof of seriousness and skill."