Developers offered Hannelore Kraus $1.6 million to drop her lawsuit blocking the construction of what would be Europe's tallest skyscraper in her neighborhood in downtown Frankfurt.
It would ruin the neighborhood, Kraus explained in her home about 200 feet from the building site overlooking one of Frankfurt's busiest and noisiest intersections.
Her one-woman campaign against the Campanile, as the skyscraper would be called, has made the 49-year-old Kraus a local celebrity--and the bane of developers planning other skyscrapers in Frankfurt, a world financial center.
Kraus has the right under Hesse state law to block the Campanile because it would cut off sunlight to her home, and the law specifies that every homeowner has a right to sunlight.
869 Feet Tall
The developers have not said how many stories they plan in the building, but it will be 265 meters tall--or 869 feet, which would make it slightly less than three-quarters the height of the 102-story Empire State Building in New York City.
"The Campanile is just too big for this area," Kraus said. "Then you have the whole array of problems that crop up, for example, traffic and burdens on the environment."
That, she added, isn't worth becoming an instant millionaire.
"I can't approve of this building by somehow personally taking myself out of controversy or by being paid off," she said in an interview in her apartment in the six-story building she owns near the main railroad station. Developers originally had hoped to start construction in March, and they say she is the sole cause of a costly delay.
Kraus also runs a small boardinghouse nearby in her Gutleutviertel neighborhood.
While the ethnically mixed crossroads in the city's center often puts German speakers in the minority, Kraus says the Campanile would destroy the "excellent neighborliness" in the area.
"Even my pension guests who are here for a short time notice that," Kraus said. "They go down to the small restaurants nearby, to the Spaniard, or the Yugoslav or the Greek."
She said that during the annual summer street festival everyone in the area takes part, "even the Turkish grandmothers who before just looked out of the upper-story windows and didn't dare to come down."
Kraus takes pride in defending the area where she has lived most of her life, and she chuckles as she recalls how a former city planner predicted that money would persuade her to change her mind.
Kraus is unmarried, but it is customary in Germany to refer to women in her age bracket as Frau, or Mrs. She also holds a doctorate in political science, and that requires her foes to address her as Frau Doktor Kraus when they discuss the issue with her.
"These skyscrapers are a thing of the past," she said, because of what she called their excessive energy consumption.
Various developers are watching the outcome closely, because they plan to build half a dozen or so skyscrapers in Frankfurt.
Critics claim that the building boom is excessive in this city of about 600,000 people.
Developers say the total price tag for the Campanile project, including the land, runs to nearly $405 million.