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Sao Paulo loses dream of world's tallest building

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) -- A Brazilian tycoon's dream to erect the world's tallest building in the crumbling center of Sao Paulo has evaporated after his financiers canceled their $1.65 billion investment, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Mario Garnero's partners at the Maharishi Global Development Fund backed out after the project hit a brick wall at the city's corruption-tainted City Hall, Folha de S. Paulo columnist Gilberto Dimenstein reported.

Garnero harbored hopes the project would be approved by the new mayor, who takes over the city of 10 million in January. But the two candidates in this Sunday's election are apparently not fans of the building.

Neither Garnero nor executives from the fund in New York were immediately available to comment on the report.

The fund linked to mystic Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, best known for teaching the Beatles to meditate, was now looking to build the 108-floor, 1,651-foot tower in Dallas or Johannesburg, Dimenstein wrote.

The four-sided pyramid inspired by Hindu temples would be 162 feet taller than the world's highest building, Malaysia's Petronas Towers, which bumped Chicago's Sears Tower off the top of the world in 1996.

The multi-functional tower -- a mini-city for 50,000 people with offices, apartments, a university, shopping malls, hotels and a convention center -- received a mixed reaction when it was announced in May 1999.

Some residents feared the pyramid would be another eyesore in the city's ragged skyline. One local architect called the blueprint drawn up by Minoru Yamasaki Associates, the architects of New York City's World Trade Center, "a slap in the face of the city."

Others praised Garnero's drive to revamp Sao Paulo's downtown district, known as the Centro, a drug-infested shell of its former splendor. But even those in favor the mega-project had strong doubts it would ever get off the ground in a city which still needs basic infrastructure including paved streets and sanitation in many areas.

For Garnero, the tower was a chance to rebuild his reputation after he fell from grace on accusations of fraudulent financial deals in the eighties.

Brazil's highest court acquitted him of all wrongdoing before he launched his crusade for the Centro.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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