How Lipton Rogers turned around the fortunes of an abandoned stump in the City of London
With a net floor area of 1.4m sq. ft, when 22 Bishopsgate is completed it will be the largest single office building in Europe, and one that delivers dozens of world, European or London ‘firsts’ for major multi-let offices. But it could have turned out completely differently, had it not been for the Great Recession, which led to an earlier scheme being abandoned mid-construction and Lipton Rogers taking over with a completely new design.
The Middle Eastern consortium that owned the site had been determined to develop out the ambitious, relatively extravagant ‘helter-skelter’ Pinnacle design originally drawn up. Construction began in 2008 and the foundations and basements were laid, but work stalled four years later with only eight floors of the concrete central core completed – attracting the rather disparaging nickname of ‘the Stump’. With about £500m already sunk into the project, the consortium’s funding sources had dried up.
Two years later, in a white-hot London property investment market, CBRE was commissioned to find a new joint-venture funding partner. The new investor would have a priority return on its money, with the consortium seeking to claw back some or all of its sunk equity thereafter. However, even with a much-discounted entry price, investors still found the Pinnacle’s costs, delivery risks and profit projections challenging.