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Brace of office projects gets down to business

CONTRACTS CENTRAL LONDON

TWO SEPARATE battles for central London office schemes are drawing to a close with two firms battling it out for one job and a winner emerging on the second.

Balfour Beatty and HBG are going headto-head for a landmark £100 million job in the City of London.The pair are sizing each other up for the lucrative 40 Holborn Viaduct project.

The scheme is Birmingham developer Castlemore Securities' first venture into the capital, where it will pick a contractor to demolish an existing a 16,000 sq m office block near the famous Smithfield meat market.

The old building will be replaced by a 20,000 sq m new build sitting on the gateway to London's Square Mile.The scheme, a further sign that the London office market is picking up, will be predominantly made up of office space with some room for retail.

Castlemore bought the development from diamond miner and retailer De Beers for £26 million in March 2002 under a deal funded by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The client is expected to make its decision in the next two months with a start on site in late summer. Completion is due by the beginning of 2008.

APS is the project manager, while the quantity surveyor is Cyril Sweett.

Across town, Laing O'Rourke has emerged as the likely victor on a £23 million office development near Euston station.

The O'Rourke team is thought to have fended off bids from Wates, Kier, Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine and Mowlem for the London Merchant Securities deal.

The contractor has been tipped to revamp an office block at 105 Tottenham Court Road.The development will include 8,826 sq m of new office space.

The job was procured under a twostage tender and LMS is hoping to kick off construction on site this summer with doors opening for business at the end of 2006.