As the Qatari bid is rejected as “not credible”, the owners of Canary Wharf are banking that modern Londoners are more willing to swap the suburbs for more central residential and a prime position on Crossrail.
Last week’s £2.2billion offer by the state-backed Qatar Investment Authority for Canary Wharf, the Margaret-Thatcher-era banking and commercial centre in East London, was rejected. According to David Pritchard, chairman of Songbird, which owns the site, ”this proposal significantly undervalues Songbird and does not reflect the inherent value of the business and its underlying assets.”
QIA already owns several prime pieces of London commercial real estate, including most of The Shard, Europe’s tallest building, Harrods, and Chelsea Barracks, and it could be that Songbird are holding out for a better offer. One of the owners in Songbird’s complicated structure includes Standard Life, who whom a spokesman said: “From our perspective, the offer is so low it can’t be taken seriously and is not a credible basis for corporate engagement.”
Part of the reason for feeling that the site is worth more, is the possibility of radically increasing the residential component of the site. A Daily Mail/Reuters report at the weekend says that Songbird are banking on Londoners adopting a more Asian attitude of living close to where you work, rather than commuting to suburbs: “Having successfully revamped what were derelict docks into a gleaming collection of skyscrapers, the group is confident it can persuade bankers and lawyers to call the area on London’s eastern flank their home as well as their place of work.”
With the benefit of a station on the new rail system Crossrail operating from 2018 and drastically cutting journey times from Canary Wharf to West London and the rest of the country, Canary Wharf has some big plans for residential. Those include the 58-storey “diamond building” and the 20-acre Wood Wharf site.
By Christopher Nye, Editor, OPP Magazine