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Thursday, June 17, 2021

London to open Qatar-backed Shard today; lots of empty office space to fill tomorrow

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Qatar’s prime minister will join a crowd of VIPs in inaugurating London’s Shard, Europe’s new tallest tower, this afternoon, which you can watch live here.

Construction of the 87-story building, located close to the Thames’s South Bank, stalled for years before Qatar’s Central Bank agreed to fund it in 2007.

But financial concerns remain; namely, whether London will be able to find tenants to fill its 26 floors of vacant office space in what developers are calling the flattest real estate market in half a century.

Reuters reports:

The Shard’s developers are spared from market wrath solely because the building was built with funding by the deep-pocketed royal family of Qatar, rather than a publicly listed firm, said John Cahill, a property analyst at Investec…

(But) if the climate is bothering the Qatari funders of the Shard, they did not say so at an opening event on Wednesday.

“Recovering our investment is a minor thing at the moment,” said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saoud Al Thani, governor of Qatar Central Bank.

One Shard official said discussions are underway with tenants for about a third of the office space.

And there have been reports that Qatar’s Al Jazeera network is considering moving its London operations into the tower.

Meanwhile, this BBC article says that there’s anger about the cost of tickets for the building’s viewing platform: £24.95 for an adult (141.91 QR) and £18.95 (107.78 QR) for a child. 

It quotes Russell Gray of the Bermondsey Village Action Group as saying:

“We have this massive pyramid slapped down here as a monument to the munificence of the Emirate of Qatar. Yet the price is yet another of the many examples of how the Shard is clearly at odds with the community in which it’s defiantly planted itself.”

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo courtesy of Shard London’s Facebook page

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