ACROSS the capital, thrilling new commercial buildings are springing up, from the City’s twenty-first century office towers to Europe’s largest urban shopping centre at Stratford. Andrew Deverell-Smith, managing director of property recruitment specialists Deverell Smith Recruitment, says “for those of us with so much at stake in the property industry, it is refreshing to see the market looking more positive than it has for a number of years.” Here we review projects to watch.
1 BATTERSEA: The iconic power station is about to get a long-overdue new lease of life. With final approval granted by communities secretary Eric Pickles in February, the omens look good at last. The plans promise “the most exciting building in London for office occupiers”.
2 SOUTH PLACE: Between Liverpool Street and Moorgate, Frogmore’s development (below) repurposes a planned office and retail space as a new boutique City hotel. Conran & Partners has designed the interior and construction began in January, with the launch planned in time for Olympics. The change of plan is a striking indication of the decline in City office rental values and it will be interesting to see if hotel use proves a profitable alternative.
3 ONE STRATFORD PLACE: Just one building from Stratford’s vast, mixed-use redevelopment, One Stratford Place (above) sits on Station Square, next to Stratford International station and the 1.9m sqft shopping centre, Westfield Stratford City, that will open its doors on 13 September.
4 THE WALKIE TALKIE: Work began in January on this controversially-shaped tower at 20 Fenchurch Street. Shelved in 2009, the project was revived last year by Land Securities and Canary Wharf Group. Completion is due in 2014.
5 CANNON PLACE: Hines’s eight-storey state-of-the-art office building (below) sits over Cannon Street mainline and underground stations, one of London’s busiest commuter destinations. Its strapline is “engineered for business” and by promising virtually column-free floors of 50,000 sqft, Cannon Place certainly proves that you don’t have to build a tower to serve the City. The mixed-use development, which also includes over 8,000 sqft of retail space, has earned the company its place on the shortlist for a City A.M. Award as one of the contenders for Property Firm of the Year 2011. After topping-out last autumn, the recent installation of two glass roofs marks the project’s steady march towards completion later this year.
6 THE SHARD: Even before completion, the London skyline has a new superstar in the Renzo Piano-designed Shard (left), which towers over not just its London Bridge site, but the entire city. The offices are claiming the best views in London – from the observatory at the top, visitors should be able to see for 40 miles. John Woodman, senior partner at independent chartered surveyors Malcolm Hollis, says: “The last few years have shown that there is still high demand for Grade A commercial space in and around the City. The focus until now has been on refurbishing existing stock. This trend is likely to continue but projects such as Cannon Place and the Shard should keep the market buoyant.”
8 THE PINNACLE: This Bishopsgate office tower, also dubbed the Helter-Skelter for its swirling design, was on hold at ground level, but the short-term supply gap for office space in the City convinced its investors to proceed apace, and work resumed this month. It will be the tallest building in the City and only the Shard will beat it to the highest rooftop in Europe.
9 THE CHEESEGRATER Like several others, British Land’s slant-sided project (below) was put on hold by the recession but work on the site began again at the start of this year, and it is reported that Laing O’Rourke has just won the contract to build the tower. The wedge-shaped Richard Rogers design will not be completed until 2014, but the insurer Aon pre-let a third of the office space in May. Some felt British Land could have held out for more, with a slight dip in its shares following the announcement, but with office rents under pressure, and plenty of other major projects underway once more, it may yet prove a smart deal in a hard market.