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Are occupiers sailing out of Hammersmith?

16th November 2012

Are occupiers sailing out of Hammersmith?

In conjunction with the rumours that one of the largest offices in Hammersmith, the Ark, is to be put up for sale, discussions have arisen as to whether Hammersmith has finally achieved the long-sought-after status of a thriving office location.  

For years the distinctive office in Hammersmith was considered somewhat of a white elephant, being persistently vacant and representing the lack of take-up in Hammersmith. However, since GE Capital Real Estate, which purchased the property in 2006, carried out a £20m refurbishment the space has been 95%-occupied. Yet you only have to walk for a few minutes around the cluster of large office buildings in Hammersmith to see a plethora of agents’ boards advertising vacant space. 

This may be expected because with numerous large office buildings consisting of many floors there is always going to be space coming available. Once you dig a little deeper, though, it becomes apparent that there is more than just a couple of thousand square foot of available space here and there. 

This excess of supply in Hammersmith is only set to increase as it is thought that Coca-Cola will be vacating 70,000 square feet of office space above Hammersmith Broadway, 1 Queen Caroline Street, where it has been based for over 20 years. This scheme was developed at the beginning of the 1990s as part of the ‘Centre West Scheme’ to rejuvenate the Hammersmith area. Disney is also rumoured to be leaving its premises at number one, Hammersmith Broadway. If both these multinational companies were to relocate as expected a vast amount of vacant space would result in the heart of Hammersmith. 

To rent or not to rent

On the other hand, Morgan Pryce is finding that ever increasingly, tenants are willing to consider the Hammersmith area as an option for their new office. With the Westfield development within a 15 minute walk, excellent transport connections and well-refurbished offices, rents can seem better value for money than those in the centre of London. Therefore the imbalance of demand and supply is predicted to slowly be redressed. 

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is encouraging investment in regeneration, which is highlighted by it having signed a resolution to make a compulsory purchase order that will allow work to begin on the £150m regeneration of Shepherds Bush Market. This scheme will comprise 194 apartments, 13 town houses and 60,000 square feet of shops and market stalls plus 40,000 square feet of restaurant space.

With this seemingly unstable office market in Hammersmith it will be interesting to see whether GE Capital Real Estate will be able to achieve the relatively low yield it is expected to be quoting for the Ark. It is hoping to achieve a yield of 6.5% which equates to a price of £78.7m. Even if the property is currently 95% let with a long average unexpired lease length, the lack of take-up of office space in Hammersmith will concern investors. They may be apprehensive that, with the potential relocation of Coca-Cola and Disney, they could suffer a similar fate and end up with the vacant white elephant that the Ark was for years. 

Morgan Pryce is a specialist tenant acquisition agent with offices in Oxford Circus and the City. Morgan Pryce specialises in search, negotiation and project management and works exclusively for tenants.

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