Mayfair Office Squeeze Spawns New London Real Estate Hubs

Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi Kenya Monday Sept. 23 2013. Multiple large blasts have rocked the mall where a hostage siege is in its third day. Associated Press reporters on the scene heard multiple blasts and a barrage of gunfire. Security forces have been attempting to rescue an unknown number of hostages inside the mall held by al-Qaida-linked terrorists.  (AP Photo/ Jerome Delay)

We had Bedlam. We had centuries of overcrowded city. So, yes, we have lots of bones. Bones. They are part of the mystery being churned up in the tunnels of Londons new Crossrail network, Europes largest ongoing construction project, upon which urban archaeologists are piggy-backing for one of the largest excavations into this storied citys oh-so-very-lurid past. Europe, after all, is a neighborhood steeped in soil and history. And in this neck of the global woods, nothing brings the light of discovery quite like the building of a transit system. In Rome, which makes London look like a rank newcomer, engineers building a subway line have hit major delays after tripping over the likes of a second-century auditorium just yards from the Forum. In Cologne, Germany, where a 21 / 2-mile railway is under construction, archaeologists found the remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman harbor. In the groaning earth under Istanbul, a new rail tunnel going under the Bosporus ran smack dab into a Byzantine shipwreck. In Thessaloniki, Greeces second-largest metropolis, excavations for a new rail project did not so much hit a brick wall as an entire lost city, some 1,800 years old. Today, in the dark recesses of London, much of the focus is on waking the dead.

London High Rents Seen Pushing Developers to Fringe

Buildings are sprouting up in once rundown Victoria and Kings Cross, a former red-light district , as developers expand the area that commands the worlds highest office rents . Blackstone Group LP bought a property about a half mile (0.8 kilometer) from St. Jamess Square to profit from a squeeze caused by conversions of offices into luxury homes. Land Securities Group Plc is investing 2 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) in Victoria. The construction push comes as older workplaces in St. Jamess and Mayfair, many built as townhouses, are turned back into homes to profit from soaring prices. Hedge funds and private-equity firms are taking most of whats left, accounting for 55 percent of new office leases in the districts this year, Cushman & Wakefield Inc. said on Sept. 10. When you see occupiers becoming more transient because of that lack of supply, it creates opportunities on the fringe of historic prime areas to drive exponential rent growth, said James Lock , managing director at Blackstones real estate unit. While there are no precise boundaries for the West End , its usually considered the central business area west of the City of London financial district. It includes the neighborhoods of Mayfair, Soho and St. Jamess and tourist attractions such as Buckingham Palace, the theater district and the bustling Piccadilly Circus commercial intersection. Victorias Revamp Developers are seeking to exploit demand for larger and more modern offices in central London with access to transport links.