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Land Sec Hedges Bets On Walkie Talkie

Unveiling its latest preliminary results and bucking the downtown in the property markets, Land Securities has announced it is continuing with the wait-and-see attitude so far employed for their landmark project in the City of London, 20 Fenchurch Street.

Popularly known as the Walkie Talkie thanks to its distinctive shape, it is the first skyscraper development by Land Securities but unlike the rival projects in the City the developer is not ploughing ahead regardless of the economic circumstances and greenlighting the Raffael Vinoly designed project.

Helping their sitting on the fence until 2009 is the fact that 20 Fenchurch Street is the most expensive, and technically complicated demolition ever carried out in the City of London. Like 122 Leadenhall Building, 20 Fenchurch Street was built using a "top down" technique whereby a core was constructed and then top of the structure with the lower floors hanging off from this.

In demolishing the building, a temporary structure has been built that supports the lower floors enabling the demolition contractor, Keltbray, to then work from the top floor down as they would normally do.

As a result of all this work the site will not be clear until Land Securities have to make a decision so from a practical point of view their current lack of certainty has no effect on the development timetable of the project whilst reassuring their investors that they aren't going to spend a nine figure sum without looking before they leap.

In the meantime, Heron, British Land and the owners of the Pinnacle will all steam on regardless. The question is whether Land Securities have been smart in not joining in the rush for London office skyscrapers and avoiding being hit by oversupply of the market, or whether their caution will have seen them miss the boat and fail to develop the building in time for the next property cycle upturn.

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20 Fenchurch Street

20 Fenchurch Street
20 Fenchurch Street

20 Fenchurch Street
20 Fenchurch Street, London
20 Fenchurch Street, London