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London’s skyline is set to transform under the wave of new multi-storey towers either set to be or already under construction in the city – and history has already been made. The tower known as the “Shard of Glass”, while still being built, has already officially become the tallest building in the whole of London. It has just passed the two hundred and thirty five metre mark, therefore surpassing the One Canada Square multi storey tower in Canary Wharf, which was the previous record holder, having been “London’s Tallest Building” for the last eighteen years.
The Shard of Glass, which is receiving a not inconsiderable amount of funding from the State of Qatar, is continuing to grow at a rate of three metres each week, and when it is completed, it will stand at a record breaking three hundred and ten metres and seventy two storeys tall, making it not only the largest commercial property in London, but the whole of Western Europe. The Shard of Glass tower was approved back in 2003 by the then Labour government, and has been under construction for two years already.
The Shard of Glass is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to London’s rapidly changing skyline. With the serious construction and property recession of the last few years giving way to an abundance of new towers, there will be several exciting additions to the Capital’s skyline in the next few years. These include Heron Tower near Liverpool Street Station (which will be forty six storeys tall), due for completion sometime in 2011 by veteran development company Gerald Ronson. Other exciting developments include the “Cheesegrater” project, the “Pinnacle”, which will be sixty four storeys tall and is heavily backed by Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian money, and the “Walkie Talkie” tower, which will be a one hundred and fifty metre tower situated on 20 Fenchurch Street. The Walkie Talkie Tower is the result of a joint venture between the Canary Wharf Group and the largest property company in the United Kingdom, Land Securities.
An expected shortfall of executive office space in two or three years’ time, when many leases signed back in 2000 are set to run out, is part of the reason for the sudden rush of new towers, with developers expecting great success. “I’ve always been very confident that it will let well,” says Shard of Glass property developer Irvine Sellar, who actually persuaded his first signed tenants, London’s transport authority, to move on elsewhere so he could let the office space for more money to other companies. “They were never the right tenant for Europe’s most iconic tower, so we agreed a deal,” he insists. “We feel confident that the timing is right, confident that we will get the right quality of tenant in from the financial services sector.”
When it is finished in May 2012, the Shard of Glass will offer five hundred and eighty six thousand square feet of executive office space, in addition to bars, restaurants, luxurious apartments and a five star Shangri-La Hotel. It is expected to eventually be valued at over a billion pounds.
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