Ušće Tower (Serbian Cyrillic: Ушће, meaning "confluence", pronounced Oosh-cheh) is the tallest skyscraper in Belgrade, capital of Serbia, and the second-tallest building overall, after the Avala tower. It was the tallest skyscraper in the Balkans until the construction of the Avaz Twist Tower in Sarajevo.

Built in 1964, the glass building overlooks the confluence Danube and Sava rivers from the New Belgrade side. It was originally 105 meters tall and used as the headquarters of the Central Committee of the League of Communists in the former Yugoslavia.

Ušće was frequently leased out to commercial interests until April 21, 1999, when it was badly damaged by successive NATO air-strikes as part of the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Beginning in 2003, the tower was reconstructed, including a 2-floor increase(141 m / 462 ft in total) in height, with the addition of a 26m antenna, which in strict architectural terms does not count as structural height, however, in structural height would actually be 115 m or 377 ft. The new tower, Ušće Office Tower 1, is now being rented out to tenants. The Ušće Complex, a modern business center, is also due to be completed within the next three years.

History

Ušće Tower was built in 1964 to serve as headquarters of the Central Committee of the League of Communists in the former Yugoslavia. The building was exclusively used for the Communist party.

The original building was 105 m tall. Even today many people still call it CeKa which is the acronym for Centralni Komitet (Central Committee).

Failed terrorist attack

A World Trade Center style destruction nearly occurred. During the 1970s Nikola Kavaja planned to board a Boeing 747 in Chicago, hijack it and hit the CK tower (the name of the building until 2003). He planned this to happen during a meeting of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and would therefore kill the president Josip Broz Tito who would be speaking to his ministers at the time and this would signal the end of communism in the country. However, minutes before he planned to hijack the plane a priest named Stoiljko Kajević (who was also supposed to be his accomplice) talked him out of doing such a thing. Kavaja spent 23 years in prison for his unsuccessful plan. He also served time for his planned attempt to assassinate Josip Broz Tito during his friendly visit to the US and was arrested for involvement in the assassination of Zoran Đinđić. Kavaja died in 2008.

Symbol of communist pride

During the "golden years" of Yugoslavia the lights were left turned on in the building so at night it would spell out "TITO". The building was a symbol of a strong communist country. The building at the time was of the latest architectural modernity. The foundations and the skeleton of the building were so strong that they would later survive multiple bomb blasts.

Takeover

After the death of Josip Broz Tito and the election of Slobodan Milošević as the president of Serbia in 1990 the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) moved into the building unlawfully, occupying ten floors. The party leased out many of the floors to domestic companies. They kept however 9 levels as offices for their party. The cabinet of Josip Broz Tito (which he rarely used) was cleared out.

Later in the 1990s, three Serbian television stations occupied some of the levels in the building: BKTV, RTV Pink and TV Košava.

NATO Bombing

On April 21, 1999 NATO air strikes hit the building, setting the upper floors on fire. Several days later NATO repeated the attack. In total 12 Tomahawk missiles were fired at this building. Amazingly the structure was so tough that it withstood these attacks. No one was hurt in the attack as the building was unoccupied at the time of the attacks (during the early morning hours). The explosions were heard across Belgrade and caused panic.

Reconstruction

Reconstruction work on the building started in early 2003 and was carried out by European Construction. The reconstruction was completed in 2005 and the official opening took place in July that year. Two additional floors were added—conference halls are located on 24th and a restaurant on the 25th The multi-million dollar project has 25 stories (above ground), totalling around 25,000 m2 of office space. An observation deck, fitness area and cafe are located on the last level of the building.

The facade got a new look and it's all glass now. The reconstruction is referred to by many as the re-birth of Serbia (as democratic parties were finally in power in Serbia).

Ušće Office Tower 1

Hypo Alpe Adria bank is now renting out the first ten floors of the building and has become the anchor tenant. This bank also has a light-ad on the building roof.

Ušće Complex

In April 2009, a shopping mall named Ušće Shopping Center was opened at the south side of the tower. It has an area of 130,000 m2 on 6 levels, of which 50,000 m2 is retail space, with 150 stores, restaurants and cafés. The shopping mall also has a multiplex cinema with 11 screens, a bowling alley and a casino. Subterranean levels house a 4,000 m2 hypermarket and two levels of parking.

The plan to build a second tower has stalled because of the economic crisis.

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