Two of London’s top developers have reunited to work on a £420m office tower in the Square Mile for Italy’s largest insurance company, Generali. Peter Thornton and Chris Strickland, who split amicably 11 years ago, signed heads of terms this week to act as the development manager for Generali’s site at Fenchurch Street in the City.
Greycoat Core, a joint venture company set up by Thornton’s Greycoat and Strickland’s Core, was chosen ahead of a stellar field of developers, thought to include Stanhope, Development Securities and Hammerson. The site at 116-120 Fenchurch Street and 10-14 Fenchurch Avenue was granted consent in September 2008 for around 400,000 sq ft of office-based space in a 15-storey tower.
Greycoat Core intends to submit a revised planning consent in the summer for slightly more space – around 420,000 sq ft – but will retain the architect, Eric Parry.
“It is a very large and complex scheme,” said Thornton. “It has a combination of normal development issues and some sub-issues, such as ownership and rights of light. It suited our combined skill set.”
Generali controls the site through a mix of freeholds and leaseholds in a vehicle called Saxon Land, which it formed with Australian fund manager Babcock & Brown a decade ago. When Babcock & Brown collapsed in March 2009, Generali bought its stake out and sought a development manager at the end of last year.
Thornton said the scheme would probably not start without a prelet in place. “Generali is really up for doing the scheme, but starting it speculatively would be a big call,” he said. Like many other larger developers, Thornton and Strickland believe the City office market will be starved of new space in the next three years.