Mayor denies Dutch city is dismantling Jeff Bezos’ historic yacht deck

Dutch town won’t temporarily dismantle bridge built in 1927 to make way for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos‘ mega-yacht, CBS MoneyWatch has learned.

A spokesperson for the mayor – and the city – told CBS MoneyWatch on Friday that reports from the Dutch press that Rotterdam would dismantle a historic bridge to make room for Bezos’ boat were false and that it had no not received or approved such a request.

If Bezos or bespoke yacht builder Oceanco requests housing, the city will consider it.

“The company that built the ship has not yet applied for a permit, so there is no problem at the moment. When they apply for the permit, we have to make a decision whether we allow it or not, and how, and things like that,” the spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb also denied earlier press reports, telling Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad that “no decision has been made yet”, noting that neither Bezos nor the builder of his yacht have asked permit to demolish part of the bridge.

The Amazon founder’s $500 million boat, built by Dutch company Oceanco and expected to be completed soon, is 417ft long and must pass through Rotterdam, under its historic bridge, to reach its owner, NL reported. Times. The problem? Koninginnebrug, a steel bridge nicknamed De Hef, is not high enough to accommodate the ship’s three masts, which exceed the 130 feet of clearance the bridge provides.

NETHERLANDS-TOURISM-FEATURE
The Koninginnebrug or “De Hef” in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is not high enough to accommodate the masts of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ new megayacht.

SÉBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images


Dutch press reports said the city would remove the central part of the bridge to make way for the yacht, the largest ever built in the Netherlands.

Currently, Rotterdam city officials, who have been in contact with Oceanco regarding the construction of the superyacht, only know that “there is a big ship that has to cross the ocean one day,” said a spokesperson at CBS MoneyWatch. , adding that they expected to receive a request to make room for the boat to pass under the bridge.

The spokesperson noted that the city has in the past had to deconstruct parts of the bridge to accommodate large ships.

“It’s not the first time that we have to do something about this bridge so that a big ship can go through. Once every few years a big ship has to go over the other side,” said the spokesperson. “So it’s not unusual, in a way.”

Rotterdam officials would have yielded to the billionaire, the world number one second richest person, given the importance of the project for the local economy. Rotterdam council project manager Marcel Walravens called building the superyacht a “very important project” economically, according to local broadcaster Rijnmond. Dismantling the bridge was the “only alternative”, he said.

Oceanco had agreed to pay the dismantling costs, Rotterdam spokeswoman Frances Van Heijst told the NL Times. It’s unclear whether Bezos, who is worth an estimated $176 billion, would pay any of the takedown costs.

The shipbuilder did not respond to a request for comment from CBS MoneyWatch.

Aboutaleb, the mayor, said the controversial venture remains under review, but Bezos still lacks official approval to move forward. He also said that Bezos’ wealth and status would not influence his decision.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with this decision. These are facts. I want to know them first,” Aboutaleb told the Dutch-language newspaper.

“It’s not a question of what goes over the bridge,” reiterated the city spokesperson. “It’s not like it’s a ship for Mr. Bezos, all of a sudden the rules change. But if there’s a call for a permit, we’ll make a decision based on facts and not about emotions. But we’re not at that stage right now,” the spokesperson said.

Some locals oppose changing the bridge in the name of one of the richest people on the planet. Protesters held a Facebook event where they vowed to gather to throw eggs at Bezos’ yacht as it passes under the bridge, scheduled for June.

“Rotterdam was built from rubble by the people of Rotterdam, and we’re not taking this apart for the phallic symbol of a megalomaniacal billionaire. Not without a fight!!” event organizers wrote on Facebook.

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