London Olympic media centre set for "Silicon Valley" revamp

LONDON Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:20am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Olympic media center is poised to be transformed into a site for London's burgeoning technology sector once the Games have left town, after the only rival bidder lost its financial backing.

Developer Resolution Property pulled its support for a proposal by consortium UK Fashion Hub to turn the 1 million square foot site in east London into a center for the UK's fashion and textile industries.

"We decided after more detailed consideration that the underlying property asset did not fit with our own particular investment strategy," Resolution Property said in a statement on Friday.

The withdrawal leaves the way clear for the so-called iCity bid, which includes data center manager Infinity and an unnamed property company, and which fits with British Prime Minister David Cameron's vision for London's East End to become a technology center to rival California's Silicon Valley.

"We are very encouraged by what we're hearing," said a source close to the iCity consortium, who declined to be named.

The eastern fringe of central London is already home to an area branded Tech City by the Cameron government, a district spanning the Shoreditch and Old Street neighborhoods that has attracted scores of internet start-up companies over the past five years.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which will oversee development of the Olympic park once the games are over, is expected to choose the winning bidder next week.

During the Games, the media center - located to the northwest of the Olympic Stadium - will be used by more than 20,000 journalists. Under iCity's plans, it will be turned into offices, research labs and a data center in a bid to create more than 6,000 jobs.

A spokesman for the LLDC said: "No decision has been taken on the future of the Press and Broadcast Centre. We cannot give further details while the commercial process is ongoing."

A spokesman for iCity declined comment and UK Fashion Hub was not immediately available to comment.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Tom Bill and David Holmes)

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