London’s tallest building opens

The European Union’s tallest building, the 1,000 foot high 87 storey tower called The Shard in London, is due to be opened today (Thursday 05 July) but it hasn’t got any occupants yet.

The building, described as ‘a vertical city’, has 26 floors of vacant office space at a time when developers are struggling to find tenants with rents at their flattest for at least 50 years.

Architect Renzo Piano calls it a place for ‘thousands of people to work and in and enjoy and for millions to take to their heart’.

The Shard is just one of several new skyscrapers being built across London and analysts have questioned whether or not the city can fill all the vacant space being created.

The Shard is a multi use building. As well as the office space it has apartments on floors 53 to 65, a luxury hotel with 200 rooms on floors 34 to 52 and restaurants on floors 31 to 33. The view from floors 68 to 72 has the highest unobstructed 360 degree view of London.

The fact that it is being built by the Qatar royal family seems to mean that it doesn’t have to worry just yet about filling all the empty space. Indeed, a wave of lease breaks over the next couple of years is expected to prompt tenants to move into well appointed new offices such as The Shard.

‘Recovering our investment is a minor thing at the moment. We have confidence in the London market and a long relationship with London,’ said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saoud Al Thani, governor of Qatar Central Bank, adding that a slowdown was part of a normal economic cycle.

The only tenant so far is the Shangri-La hotel, although the developer expects the rest of the building to be fully occupied by the end of 2014. Its location on the opposite bank of the Thames from the City, the city’s, could be popular with office workers who arrive at the train station underneath.

The Qataris, who also London's Harrods department store and the luxury One Hyde Park apartment scheme in Knightsbridge, are not the only rich foreigners buying into London real estate.