Walkie Talkie tower back on track

Land Securities Group Plc has announced that they are restarting their development of a new skyscraper in London, known as the Walkie Talkie tower.

The shortage of office space in London has driven the decision by Land Securities, the largest real estate investment trust in the UK. They have been making enquiries to contractors for estimates to build the 155-metre tower, which will be at 20 Fenchurch Street in the the heart of City of London.

The project had been shelved during the recession in 2008, however the market trends in London show a massive rise in demand for office space and a general recovery in many companies. Firms are wanting to build again after the biggest drop in new developments in 30-years according to the Drivers Jonas brokerage.

Donal McCabe, spokesman for Land Securities commented on the project, “Our aspiration remains to build 20 Fenchurch Street,

“Construction costs generally have reduced over the last 12 months, so it should come as no surprise if we were to market-test any of our potential schemes.”

They are reportedly keeping their options open as to whether they secure a tenant before work starts on the project and no completion dates have been confirmed. They had previously stated before they stopped the development back in May that they would wait for a confirmed tenant for the skyscraper first, so it remains to be revealed if this plan has changed again.

There will be 600,000 sq ft of office space in the Walkie Talkie tower, which was designed by Rafael Viñoly, a New York-based architecture firm. It gets its nickname from its striking resemblance to two-way radios!

The tower has been designed in an unusual way, where the top floors, which command higher prime rents anyway, are large than the lower floors, enabling more space to be rented out at the top.  The skyscraper had to be slightly reduced in size by nine floors as it was believe to impact too much on the views of the City, including St Paul’s Cathedral. It will also house a rooftop garden, which will be stepped over a number of levels to make room for the plant machinery of the tower, without comprising on the greenery.

The news of the reboot for the Walkie Talkie project is great for London, the capital desperately needs more office space in the market recovery. It’s a good sign that the office space development and building market has finally got back on track, and could create some significant additions to the iconic London skyline.