It might have struggled to find tenants since its owners terminated their original contract with Transport for London, but autumn has brought good news for the Shard, as it signs its biggest letting to date.
US company HCA Hospitals is to take 85,000 sq ft of space in the building – three floors in total – for its new London base. And while Property Week has reported that the space will serve as an outpatient clinic, an SE1 community website has revealed that HCA has applied for a change of use for the space to planning class C2, suggesting that it may in fact be used to provide in-patient care.
Either way, it seems that London’s most ambitious landmark office building is to become a medical venue.
The Shard – more leisure than business?
It’s an interesting twist for the skyscraper, which was launched without tenants after failing to secure a single pre-letting on its office space.
So far, the venue’s leisure and hospitality space has proved far more popular than its offices. Three restaurants are already doing brisk trade among visitors looking to enjoy some of London’s best views along with their after-work drinks. Meanwhile, a luxury hotel is due to open by the end of the year.
It has also proved a hit among tourists looking to experience London’s latest landmark. Meanwhile, the building hit the headlines earlier this year when protestors chose to scale its 310m façade in a statement against oil drilling in the Arctic.
However, while the Shard’s owners have succeeded in building a new icon on the London landscape, they have so far failed to create the high-powered business community they were hoping would thrive within its walls.
Benefits for the broader area
While the Shard itself has struggled for tenants, its presence has done wonders for the surrounding area. The Baby Shard is completely let to a single tenant – News International – while interest in office space around London Bridge has steadily increased.
In fact, the impact of the Shard’s profile-raising presence has been felt across SE1. Just last week, we explored a new Alice in Wonderland-themed business centre in Waterloo – a building as remarkable for its location as for its unusual design. It seems unimaginable that such a space would have launched in SE1 before the arrival of the Shard.
Vertical city vision to become reality?
The Shard’s current office tenants are a broad mix: HCA Hospitals will join financial advisory firm Duff & Phelps, news organisation Al Jazeera, and energy specialists South Hook National Gas Company. Despite this latest letting, more than 400,000 sq ft of office space within the building remains empty.
But perhaps the Shard’s owners won’t be too disheartened: in bringing a medical facility to the building, HCA’s tenancy will take the building one step closer to their vision for a vertical city.
Is this latest tenant good news for the Shard? And will it ever achieve its vision for a vertical city?