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The Gherkin To Get Revamp With Chunk Of Vacant Space To Fill

The Gherkin has increasingly been crowded out by other office towers.

The owner of London's iconic Gherkin office tower has drafted in Foster & Partners to work up plans to refresh the landmark office tower at 30 St. Mary Axe, more than a quarter of which is vacant.

Building reported the practice is working with site owner Bury Street Properties to bring the 41-storey, 693K SF tower — which celebrated its 20th anniversary in April — up to contemporary energy standards and make it more attractive for occupiers.

The Gherkin has 191K SF available to lease, according to the building's website, just over 25% of the building's overall space. The 19th to 26th floors are available.

Turner & Townsend is also understood to be part of a project team charged with revamping the building’s existing office space.

The decision to push ahead with the refurbishment project comes after Bury Street Properties was forced in late 2021 to abandon its plans to build the circa 1,000-foot-tall Tulip tower adjacent to the Gherkin. The scheme was rejected first by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and then by Communities Secretary Michael Gove following a public inquiry.

Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra is at the helm of Bury Street Properties. In 2014, Safra Group bought the building for £726M. Despite the Gherkin's prominence on the London skyline, it had not been the easiest asset for previous owners, a joint venture between Evans Randall and German fund manager IVG.

The two owners had different loans secured against their ownership in different currencies, and the loans fluctuated in value as the currencies moved. A need to simplify the debt structure prompted the sale, but in the end, £726M was higher than the £630M they paid to Swiss Re, the insurer that built the tower, in 2006. 

The building is one of the oldest towers in the City’s main grouping of tall office structures around the capital’s financial district and could be further dwarfed by several proposed new towers as the area's skyline continues upward.