A flurry of interest around The Place and The Shard suggests that things may be looking up for the London Bridge Quarter.
Just this week, Rupert Murdoch’s News International has entered into talks to acquire offices at The Place. The corporation is rumoured to be interesting in renting all 428,000 sq. ft. of office space in the seventeen-storey building (dubbed the Baby Shard) which faces out across the piazza towards The Shard.
It is the latest in a series of activity which suggests that the London Bridge Quarter is finally coming to life. Most significantly, it follows on from The Shard securing its first tenant, Duff & Phelps, at the end of April. The financial advisory firm are to rent 17,000sq. ft of space in the 1,016ft tower.
Meanwhile, this week also saw the opening of the first restaurant in the iconic building. Located on the thirty-second floor, Oblix is a New York-style rotisserie and grill, with bar and lounge areas. After initially turning down The Shard as the location for his new business, owner Rainer Becker (the founder of both Zuma and Roka) changed his mind after falling in love with the design of the building, which he says “dominates – in a positive way – the London skyline”.
Becker isn’t alone in his admiration of The Shard; at the end of April, it scooped the Project of the Year award at the Building Awards. Following all the hype, it seems like it is beginning to garner the kind of positive attention which will attract tenants to the site – and stimulate serious interest around the London Bridge Quarter as a whole.
And not before time. Commentators were already beginning to worry that The Shard would become an iconic symbol of misjudgement rather than success. Now, having avoided the fate of The Pinnacle, it looks like it may finally have the chance to live up to its potential.
Two more restaurants and a hotel are set to open in The Shard later this year, while news organisation Al Jazeera is rumoured to be close to agreeing terms. Energy company South Hook Natural Gas may also take up space in the building.
Meanwhile, News International isn’t the only organisation to be linked with The Place – Ernst & Young, Omnicom and Ogilvy & Mather have all expressed interest in the building which, so far, is proving more popular for office space than The Shard itself.
The London Bridge Quarter was designed to create a new commercial district on the South Bank of the Thames. With fresh interest in its two landmark buildings, we may finally see the area flourish into the thriving business district it was intended to be.
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