Friday, 12 November 2010

Hammerson submits application to redevelop St Alphage Place

Hammerson, the FTSE 100-listed REIT (Real estate investment trust) has submitted fresh plans for the redevelopment of St Alphage House, the controversial London Wall site that was previously earmarked to become JPMorgan’s (JPM) European headquarters. As part of the new application, which is expected to be determined by the City of London Corporation next summer, the existing post-war podium and tower will be demolished and replaced by two new buildings of 500,000 sq ft, 121-123 London Wall, which will form the unimaginatively named, London Wall Place.

121 London Wall will take the form of a 300,000 sq ft headquarters building, which the developer believes places a strong emphasis on flexibility, with internal space plans allowing for either large trading floors or individual offices dependent on tenant requirements. Outside, the schemes architect, London based Make has created a series of multi-level landscaped terraces, which are becoming increasingly popular on office schemes in the square mile as a means of client entertainment, as seen on British Land’s recent Ropemaker Place.

Completion for occupier fit out is set for 2014, however Hammerson have stated that before full construction can commence, a pre-let will have to be found for the 121 London Wall element of the scheme. Given that construction will likely start immediately if planning permission is granted, Jones Lang LaSalle and Knight Frank, the joint letting agents representing Hammerson will have to find a tenant before next summer, which either shows the increased confidence that developers have in the City office market or suggests that they already have a company lined up.

The adjacent 123 London Wall will offer 195,000 sq ft of grade A office space, but this time in the form of a striking 16-storey multi-tenant tower, which will stand roughly opposite the 18-storey Five Aldermanbury Square, currently the UK headquarters of insurance company, Ageas. Hammerson’s previous attempt to realise a tall building on the site for JPM were met with such fierce opposition from the Barbican Residents Association that the scheme was eventually abandoned, however it is unlikely that the new plans will meet with such resistance given the height of neighbouring buildings.

Make have also put considerable emphasis on public space, with the development incorporating a series of new gardens set amongst the blitzed ruins of St Alphage Church Tower and the remains of the City Wall, similar to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s headquarters on King Edward Street. The existing highwalk system, which is currently a neglected and underused space will also be retained and refurbished with new north/south and east/west bridges opening up the Barbican estate and new developments such as The Heron at Milton Court to the rest of the City.

Marketed as a potential City headquarters, the scheme will be completed using the highest quality materials, with an external finish of high performance concrete and an innovative black glazed faience ceramic, which should be a first for the City. Although the demolition of St Alphage House will mean the loss of the only building from the post-war master plan for London Wall to still have its original aluminium curtain wall, London Wall Place should have no problem in becoming the well recognised City landmark that Hammerson MD, Martin Jepson hopes for.

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