CANNON Place is set to officially open today, marking an end to almost four years and £200m of construction work – though the building will be launched without a tenant.
The 400,000 square foot, eight storey building above Cannon Street train station is one of the only large offices to complete in 2011, ahead of the Shard tower in 2012 and several years in advance of other skyscrapers.
“Our plan was always to speculatively build. We are talking to several parties,” Mark Swetman, project director for Cannon Place developer Hines, told City A.M.
The parties in talks about taking space include one financial services firm looking to expand, while another is a conglomerate looking to move from an outdated building.
“It’s likely to be multi-let, with up to 3,500 people in there in total,” Swetman said.
The project head said the firm is “relaxed” about the spectre of the Walbrook, Minerva’s office building across the road that has stood empty since completion in 2010.
“Honestly, everyone who looks at our building will be looking at the Walbrook. But we have a letting void built into the development timetable, which we have not even come close to the end of,” he said.
“We know that there is enough demand to fill both of these buildings up. It’s a matter of when the tenants push the button.”
The building contains no columns jutting through the floor plates, in a bid to attract firms in need of open-plan trading space.
The building is one of Hines’ first in London, and is unlikely to be the last – Swetman says the firm views Cannon Place as a springboard into the capital, with more projects already on the horizon.
Hines and its partners have spent an additional £30m on improving the railway station directly beneath the new building.
LORD MAYOR BEAR ON THE LAUNCH
LORD Mayor Michael Bear, who ends his 12-month tenure in November, is due to open Cannon Place at a ceremony today.
“It’s designed as a suspension bridge over the railway, which is such a feat of engineering. It will really enhance that corner of the City,” he told City A.M. yesterday. Cannon Place is the first property he has formally opened during his time at Mansion House.
The Lord Mayor said his 822 speeches, visits to 37 cities and 20 countries during his tenure have gone some way to improving the image of the Square Mile – though more so internationally.
“The further away from London you get, the easier it is to promote. Here, I’ve moved from promoting the City to promoting a better understanding of its value for the country.”
But despite recent grumblings, he says he has seen “no evidence” of banks gunning to move their operations away from London.
On life after the Mayorship, Bear hinted that he would consider returning to property. “I’m available. Having had the best unpaid job in the world, I would now like the best paid job in the world.”