Venice’s Grand Canal is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world. In 2008 The Benetton family’s real estate holding Edizione Property bought the 18th-century Palazzo Fontego dei Tedeschi, a 101,507 square foot piece of history. The building was bought in a deal that cost a whopping $84 million. The family had promised to restore the 13th century Palazzo. However, permission from Venice’s council did not come till this week. The controversial move will see the Palazzo house a Benetton megastore; permission was previously withheld due to protests from cultural and green conservationists. Venice’s unique environmental problems mean that this little Italian treasure requires heavy funding to quite literally stay afloat. Venice’s mayor, Giorgio Orsone, said, “We will see an important part of the city reborn.”
This move adds to the heated debate as to what extent commercial sponsorship should be allowed. Orsoni recently got the flak for allowing floodlit posters of Coca-Cola, Rolex, and Bulgari to deck palaces along the Grand Canal. The converted palazzo will include a large inner courtyard and a fourth-floor seating area reserved for the community.