The new-build City office market promised a lot at the start of the year but projects have since stalled or remain empty

Projects of the year


At the beginning of this year the new-build City office market appeared to be the saviour of the beleaguered construction industry. After years of inactivity in the City of London, work on the Cheesegrater, the Walkie-Talkie and the Pinnacle was steaming ahead, and there was a general feeling that the much heralded commercial-led resurgence of the industry was actually happening. These feelings were bolstered by the Shard coming up to completion over the river, and work on its baby brother The Place making rapid progress.

Then work stalled on the Pinnacle at the end of January, owing to the client SEDCO failing to secure a tenant: a condition of continued funding. Eleven months later, this early optimism looks very misplaced, as two completed City offices - the Walbrook Building and Cannon Place - still lie empty, and the Shard and the Place don’t have a major tenant signed up.

Developer Hammerson has exited the office market to focus on retail, and Pinnacle contractor Brookfield is now embroiled in a legal battle with the client over unpaid fees. The chances of securing a corporate tenant who can fill a third of the floorspace in 100 Bishopsgate or the Pinnacle in this current market are very slim. Letting this much space still doesn’t guarantee the building will actually get built, so why would any corporate occupier take this risk when there is so much existing space available? Brookfield has taken its signage down from the Pinnacle, embarrassed at being associated with a project nicknamed “the stump” - this neatly sums up the state of the City tall building office market.

Cheesegrater Leadenhall Building

The Cheesegrater, London