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The Shard turns London super high-rise

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 - 03:20

July 5 - Western Europe's tallest building, the Shard in London, is being inaugurated. The developers say it will be a ''vertical town'' with space for offices, restaurants, a hotel and penthouse apartments, but it's not yet clear who is going to move in. Joanna Partridge reports

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London's latest landmark. Rising above the Thames - at 310 metres high, the Shard is western Europe's tallest building. Twelve years after its conception - the building has been completed, with only the windows left to clean before the inauguration. Irvine Sellar is the property developer behind the skyscraper. He says the Shard will be a "vertical town" with space for offices, bars and restaurants, along with apartments, a hotel and of course a viewing platform at the top. SOUNDBITE: Irvine Sellar, Chairman and Founder of Sellar Property, saying (English): "You can eat here, you can sleep here, you can work here, and... view from here. That will be some experience, you can work here from February." Renzo Piano was the architect. And when funding dried up during the financial crisis - the State of Qatar stepped in with investment. Ali Sahreef Al-Emadi is the CEO of the Qatar National Bank Group. SODUNBITE: Ali Sahreef Al-Emadi is the CEO of the Qatar National Bank Group. "Most of the people are wondering how this building of this size came to life during a really difficult time in UK market and also across the world. But from day one we had a very great belief in the UK market and especially London." In time, 72 of the 95 floors will be occupied. But it's still not clear exactly who will be moving in. For three years, Londoners have watched the Shard rise above the city skyline... ... But few people have been inside. This is the view over London that those future tenants of offices and apartments are going to look out on. Floors 4 -28 are reserved for office space. Above that will be three stories for bars and restaurants. The 5-star Shangri-La Hotel will move in to floors 34-52. The ten apartments spread over 13 stories will be Europe's highest homes - and some of the most expensive, expected to cost between 30 and 50 million pounds. Right at the top of the skyscraper are the viewing platform and the spire. The Shard isn't without its detractors. Some feel it dominates the city. Others claim Sellar will have difficulty enticing the kind of tenants - such as top media or legal firms or hedge funds - that he wants to attract. SOUNDBITE: Irvine Sellar, Chairman and Founder of Sellar Property, saying (English): "This is a fantastic, historic area. It went a little quiet in the sort of 60s and 70s, but something happened, with us, to bring it back to its earlier historic interest, brilliance, or whatever you might call it, but this is a great part of London." Sellar says the development will end up employing twelve and a half thousand people. And the Qataris insist the Shard is a long-term investment and they haven't put a deadline on installing tenants. The building's now being fitted out inside. The hotel should be open for business next year - and they predict full occpancy by the end of 2014. Their success may determine how high-rise London's future will look. Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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The Shard turns London super high-rise

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 - 03:20