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Winner set for £70m hotel


LAING O'Rourke looks set to shrug off recent disappointing financial results by bagging one of the most prestigious jobs in London.

The firm is ready to check in with a £70 million deal to redevelop the St Pancras Chambers, a world famous gothic hotel at the front of St Pancras railway station in central London.

Last week it revealed pre-tax profits in the year to March 2005 fell 60 per cent to £24 million.

Laing O'Rourke had originally been vying for the contract with HBG, Kier and Wates but has been head-to-head with Wates since the turn of the year after the other two firms were dropped.

A source close to the deal said: 'Although nothing is certain the rumour is getting stronger and stronger that O'Rourke has taken it.

'The subbies are circling and they're saying that Wates hasn't been putting any enquiries out there but the O'Rourke boys have been asking a lot.

Basically it looks like Wates is dead in the water. There are more interviews this week and I think that might be to wrap things up.' The St Pancras Chambers, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, was opened as the Midland Grand Hotel in 1876. But after making a loss it was converted into railway offices in 1935 before closing in 1980 after failing fire safety checks.

Hotel operator Marriott is planning to convert the Grade I listed building into a luxury hotel that will cater for Eurostar passengers, who will begin arriving at St Pancras next year.

The deal will involve redeveloping the hotel for modern use and building 68 luxury apartments for property group the Manhattan Loft Corporation. Enabling works worth £5 million are also included.

Laing O'Rourke already has a relationship with Marriott after it built a £25 million hotel at Heathrow Airport a few years ago.

The work at St Pancras should start this summer and is expected to take around two years to complete.