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Traditionally, Farringdon was regarded as a fringe London market, off the radar for many institutions. But as the capital’s infrastructure network is revamped, developers are taking note. The area looks set to be a major beneficiary of London’s transformed transport network, being the point at which the London Underground, the £16bn Crossrail system and the upgraded Thameslink overland rail network will meet.
When it is completed, 150,000 passengers will flood through the revamped Farringdon Interchange each day, with direct access to Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and London City airports.
Timberland, Alexander McQueen and Agent Provocateur have all chosen to locate in the area. “We are seeing a lot of enquiries from West End occupiers with leases up for renewal,” says Michael Raibin, director of agent Hatton Real Estate. “They are taking a close look at their overheads, and Farringdon offers much better value for money. Crossrail can only help to persuade more to relocate.”
Recent deals include last year’s 48,000 sq ft prelet to Kurt Geiger at Great Portland Estates’ 24 Britton Street, EC1, paying up to £38 per sq ft on some floors. “That’s getting close to pre-downturn levels, when we saw rents reach £45 per sq ft,” says Raibin. “It gives investors confidence, and makes development far more viable.”
Farebrother predicts that rents in Farringdon could eventually surpass those in other key interchanges, such as King’s Cross, Euston and London Bridge, while other agents agree it has the potential to become a £50-plus per sq ft location.
Developers are also investigating refurbishment opportunities. For instance, Threadneedle is marketing around 5,900 sq ft at Farringdon Point, EC1, at £36.50 per sq ft, while a host of other refurbishments are due for completion in the coming months. These include ING Real Estate’s refurbishment of the 33,000 sq ft 50 Farringdon Road, EC1.
In addition, schemes scheduled for completion in 2012 include Supercity’s 38,000 sq ft 20-26 Rosebery Avenue, and GE Capital and Endurance Land’s 35,000 sq ft 85 Clerkenwell Road, both in EC1. All are hoping to achieve rents of at least £35 per sq ft.