Life in London carries on regardless but today something important happened that most of the capital's residents will be unaware of until they see it emerging on the skyline - the official start of construction of the Shard.
40% of the Shard is already let to Transport For London, and no matter what the economy is doing, a prestigious building like this is bound to be a draw. Despite the gloom and doom, things are currently looking pretty good for foreign investors eager to build skyscrapers in London as evidenced by both the Shard and Pinnacle.
For example, the pound has fallen in value from about 7.3 to 5.5 Qatari Rial since the beginning of the year making it cheaper for the investors in the scheme.
The top-spec grade A office rents in central London may have fallen a peak from £58.50 per square metre in 2008 to £47.50 today, but when viewed in the context of the current currency changes where the Shard's Qatari investors can get almost a quarter more for their money, this means the tower could actually be more profitable than at the peak of the office London market as their costs have fallen faster than expected revenue.
In addition, near zero percent interest rates allow the owner to discount for future income forcing up the value of the scheme and the on going recession has increased unemployment depressing wages in the construction sector and falling demand has reduced the cost of commodities such as steel which are vital materials for the Shard.
Indeed, the Shard uses so much steel, some 12,000 tonnes in all, there will be more used for the structure of the building than the entire 2012 Olympic site. The size of the project is such that the total £2 billion worth of expected contracts for London Bridge Quarter of which the Shard is a leading part, are worth as much as the total amount of non-residential contracts that went through the construction industry in the first quarter of 2009.
Once completed in the first half of 2012, the building will be comfortably the tallest in Western Europe at almost 310 metres high with a mixture of office space, a luxury hotel occupied by Shangri La and the highest apartments in London, some of which take up two whole floors each.
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