First letting of London offices in Walkie Talkie skyscraper 'close'
The London offices in the Walkie Talkie tower will soon be let out for the first time.

According to CoStar News, Canary Wharf Group and Land Securities have almost reached an agreement with insurer Markel to take space at the 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3, skyscraper.

Markel is one of six potential occupiers of the 37-storey tower, but the insurer is in the most advanced talks. It is thought the firm wants to take 80,000 sq ft of London offices out of a potential 695,800 sq ft.

The insurer currently has its City headquarters at 49 Leadenhall Street, which shares the same postcode as the Walkie Talkie tower. If it did make the move, the publication said the rent would be approximately £65 per sq ft.

Designed by Rafael Vinoly, the 509 ft skyscraper is a 50 per cent joint venture between Canary Wharf Group and Land Securities. When fully completed, it will offer 14,000 sq ft of retail space and 680,000 sq ft of City offices.

Markel regeared its current lease in August 2010 in an attempt to secure additional time to find a headquarters that was more suitable for its requirements. It is due to expire in 2014, although the original agreement would have ended in 2011. Construction of the Walkie Talkie tower is scheduled for 2014.

CoStar News noted there has been a recent surge in interest in EC3 offices within the insurance sector. Royal & Sun Alliance, for example, is looking to move into as much as 130,000 sq ft of space. Leases at Plantation Place 1 and Leadenhall Court are due to expire in 2014, with the Walkie Talkie therefore a potential new home.

Liberty Mutual is also reportedly considering City offices here. Between 60,000 and 80,000 sq ft of space could be taken up following a potential move from its current base at Plantation Place South, 60 Great Tower Street.

When work started on the tower, Canary Wharf Group's chief executive officer George Iacobescu commented: "We are delighted to be able to apply our extensive high rise experience to such an iconic development. We look forward to working alongside Land Securities on this exciting project, which will be yet another step forward for London's economy.”

Posted by David Hudek

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