Exclusive: Lipton Rogers and US-based developer Hines prepare competing bids for prestige City of London project


Source: Dimitri Hon

Two high-profile development teams are lining up rival bids to take on the stalled Pinnacle tower in the City of London, Building can reveal.

Veteran developer Sir Stuart Lipton has confirmed to Building that he is lining up a bid for the project, which has been lying dormant since the beginning of 2012 after finance dried up.

Lipton – one of property’s biggest names, best known for developing London’s iconic eighties Broadgate complex - is backed by equity investors and has engaged a design team including architect Karen Cook at PLP, who designed the original Pinnacle and its distinctive
“helter skelter” shape for her previous employer Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF).

The project could be Lipton’s first under developer Lipton Rogers, which he founded in January with former Stanhope technical director Peter Rogers to focus on affordable office schemes.

Building has also learned that US developer Hines is lining up a bid with a design team that includes architect William Matthews. Matthews was project architect on the Shard at Renzo Piano Building Workshop before departing in the spring to found his own firm, William Matthews Associates. The Hines-led team also includes Canada-based delivery architect Adamson.

The Pinnacle would be Houston-based Hines’ largest development in the UK to date. The developer owns or is developing 17 properties in the UK, according to its website.

Both teams are in contact with property agent CBRE, which was appointed by the scheme’s overseas owners earlier this year to source new funding for the project.

Building understands interested parties have been asked to work with a revised design for the Pinnacle drawn up by CBRE and incumbent architect KPF, which, as Building revealed earlier this month, is cheaper than the £1bn original cost but retains the distinctive “helter skelter” design.

Lipton confirmed to Building that he was “looking at the existing CBRE proposal”. However, Building understands Lipton’s project team – which also includes engineer WSP and start-up QS Alinea - also has its own design ideas. One version could see the existing design replaced with a more economical office tower, potentially as tall, with a different shape.

A source close to the situation said designs were being “knocked back and forth” between CBRE and interested parties.

The source added: “All prospective investors will go in with their own design teams. They’ll want independent advice.”

Building understands that the incumbent project team – US-based KPF, joint development managers Arab Investments and Brookfield Multiplex, engineer Arup and cost consultant Aecom – are all still working on the scheme.

A spokesperson for CBRE told Building it would “start marketing the Pinnacle in the New Year”, potentially throwing the project open to a wider array of bidders. CBRE declined to comment on the timing or structure of the bidding process.

The Pinnacle’s majority owners, Saudi Arabian fund manager Sedco and Sharia-compliant investment fund Pramerica, are seeking around £500m of equity to reboot the scheme, with the aim to attract a significant pre-let to make it viable.

The new partner will take an equity stake in the project, with the existing owner’s stake reduced, depending on how much money comes in.

The original KPF design for the 1 million ft2 project, which was conceived pre-recession, is now considered too expensive to be viable in the current market.

The tower has been built up to just seven floors and has become known as “the Stump”.

Architect Cook and PLP’s four other co-founders formed their practice in autumn 2009, after departing from their former employer KPF.

Arup referred enquiries to Arab Investments, which declined to comment. Adamson, Alinea and William Matthews were unavailable for comment as Building went to press. All other parties declined to comment.