London landords aiming to win big during the 2012 Olympics

Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert June 19, 2012 11:01

Eleven million fans, sponsors and athletes will be in the city from July, stoking demand for storage, temporary shops and vantage points for cameras – allowing landlords to cash in on otherwise dead space.

“You’ll see usable space created that doesn’t currently exist, “ said Mark Hughes-Webb, the managing director of Space-2 Consultancy, a firm that finds buildings for film shoots. “It’s been a long time since the Games were in such a densely populated city. People are having to be more imaginative.”

London, the EU’s most crowded city after Paris, will host the games between July 27 and August 12. Homeowners have already hiked rents by up to six times in anticipation of the influx and commercial landlords are getting in on the act.

Unlike the past two Olympic cities of Beijing and Athens, where neighbourhoods were demolished to create venues or they were located in sparsely populated outlying areas, most of the 34 London sites are at the heart of built-up areas.

The Games’ epicentre at Stratford in the east of the city has benefited from a £7 billion (R92bn) injection of infrastructure, sports venues and homes, revitalising an area better known for its polluted waterways and industrial estates.

Sites for hire include a former limestone quarry near the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, southeast England, the owner of which is targeting contractors seeking temporary staff accommodation. Its proximity to a high-speed rail link means it is 30 minutes from the Olympic stadium in Stratford.

Elsewhere, owners of a sports field in Chiswick, west London, are in talks with overseas performers to rehearse for the handover ceremony to Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian city that will host the Games in 2016. Sites like these could cost £20 000 a week, Hughes-Webb said.

Empty shops, particularly those close to busy retail areas like Oxford Street and Covent Garden, are being snapped up by the likes of high-end US clothing brand Opening Ceremony to house pop-up stores.

“Enquiries from landlords looking to lease out their vacant units during the Olympics have risen by 50 percent,” said Rosie Cann at Pop-up Space.

“Enquiries from landlords looking to lease out their vacant units during the Olympics have risen by 50 percent,” said Rosie Cann at Pop-up Space.

Pop-up shops usually remain open for a day to two weeks.

Not all attempts to find space are successful. Nike’s plan to build a temporary two-storey building to host exercise classes in Regents Park was blocked by Westminster council on the grounds it would ruin the park’s appearance.

Equally those with empty space near venues may not land big cheques. The London Olympic organising committee bans non-sponsors from advertising within 300m of venues, keeping demand in check.

Sponsors Cadbury, BMW and British Airways are among firms expected to seek space near the event, such as a man-made beach on the Greenwich peninsula on the Thames.

“We are most definitely making money from this,” said Simon Donaldson of Lend Lease, but he added that it would be substantially more without the committee’s rules.

Demand from film crews keen to capture panoramic views of the skyline has pushed up prices for rooftop space. Fees will double to £300 an hour over the period. And developers of the 95-storey Shard skyscraper near London Bridge train station, 6km from the Olympic park, have been approached by many broadcasters.

Yet many landlords were missing out, unaware of the strength of demand for storage space, or the value of being near the Olympic park, Hughes-Webb said. “People are fixated on what the space is, not what it could be. They’re looking at it and saying ‘it’s just an empty field’. Well, it’s not to us.” – Reuters


Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert June 19, 2012 11:01


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