Monday, 17 September 2012

PROPERTY ARTICLE: The Shard of Glass. Copyright SvD.


I practically live in London Bridge Station – just joking but I am there very often on my way to meet clients in the City. I have watched the Shard take shape and now that it is ready (and open on the 05th July) I am as intrigued as most people will be to see just who will be moving in to London’s tallest building.

The Shard of Glass, as it will be known, is Western Europe’s tallest building standing at 1,030 ft (310 metres). Once completed, there will be 72 floors of which floors 53-65 will comprise 62,129 sq ft (5,772 m2) of luxury residential apartments. The apartments have not officially gone on sale but there are rumours of price tags of around £30- £50m per apartment.

Apart from residences, the Shard will contain office space (floors 2-28), restaurants (floors 31-33), a five star hotel (floors 34-52) and above the residences, an observatory stretching from floors 68-72 (the top floor).

Given that the finance which funded the building is a form of sharia compliant investment, it is unlikely that the tenants permitted will have any connections with alcohol or gambling. No figures have been revealed yet with regards to the rent for the office and commercial areas but it will be on par with if not more than the City and Canary Wharf which average around £40-£50 per sq ft.

The Shard is likely to become a major tourist attraction as it is estimated that the public viewing gallery in the Observatory will draw two million visitors per year.

The buzz is that the apartments will easily sell as the London property market remains extremely buoyant and defies the downward property price trend in the rest of the country. It is clear that all if not most buyers of the Shard apartments will be foreign as London property continues to be seen as a safe haven. A surge of buyers from France (now that Sarkozy has lost the election) is expected to descend on the capital in the near future.

The apartments will be at a height equivalent to the ‘cloud ceiling’ in the capital which is around 700ft. So in other words residents will be able to look out and see the clouds below them as they would if they were in an airplane. London’s notoriously cloudy and wet weather will limit exceptional views of residents hoping to see the sea some 44 miles away, to perhaps a few days of the year only.

A second building, albeit, much shorter will be built nearby. This building will be known as London Bridge Place and together with the Shard, they will form the London Bridge Quarter. The Southwark area where the Shard has been built is in need of regeneration. As a regular commuter in and out of London Bridge Station I am hoping that the station itself and the immediate vicinity will be greatly improved and refurbished when the Shard opens for business; currently the station is a disgrace for such a prosperous area. Apart from the very popular Borough market, the area is in need of a shot in the arm to compete with more coveted areas such as Knightsbridge and Kensington. If all of the Shard apartments sell at the asking price, it will provide a strong impetus to developers that the area will indeed become prime residential investment in the London property sector.

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