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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Multi-million-pound Shard flats remain unsold after five years

The luxury apartments in London's tallest skyscraper have failed to find buyers and have been left empty

Projects across the UK, including the iconic Shard building, have seen Islamic finance play a significant funding role.
Projects across the UK, including the iconic Shard building, have seen Islamic finance play a significant funding role.

LONDON // Five years after their launch, all 10 of the luxury apartments in The Shard skyscraper at London Bridge, which are rumoured to retail for up to £50 million, remain unsold, according to The Guardian.

Initial expectations of selling the flats, which include a handful of duplexes, were so bullish that the developer of the Shard project remarked “I should think about 20 phone calls should [be enough to sell the flats].”

But the properties have stubbornly refused to shift. Despite an initial sales prospectus - which has subsequently disappeared from the public domain - which boasted of the apartments affording a view of the sea and the grandstands at Ascot racecourse, the market for them has curiously failed to appear.

The Shard was first conceived of the late Irvine Sellar, who came up with the idea for the distinctive shape of the 72-storey tower during a lunch in 2000 with the architect Renzo Piano, who went on to design the project.

The financial crisis in 2007 almost led to the project being cancelled, before a consortium of Qatari investors, including the nation’s sovereign wealth fund among others, paid £150 million for an 80% stake in the building.

Construction began in 2009 and the building was finished three years later, officially opening in June 2012 with a glitzy ceremony attended by the Duke of York and a former Qatari prime minister, reflecting the aspirations the developers had of enticing the global super-rich to buy into Shard life.

Five years later, the apartments, which are arrayed between the 53rd and 65th floors of the tower, appear to be unsold - there is no Land Registry information suggesting that any of the properties have been bought and none of the owners or developers would talk to The Guardian about how sales were going.

Luxury estate agent Henry Pryor told newspaper that he wasn’t surprised by the long-term lack of activity on sales: “If they could sell them for what they want for them they would have sold by now. If they sell they will crystallise a price and that makes it very difficult for future sales because the benchmark has been set. That is one reason developers chuck in goodies [like cars or fine wine] to keep the apparent price up.” And the likelihood of future sales wasn’t hopeful, either, according to Pryor.

“Rich people don’t want to shell out zillions living south of the river, it’s a shock enough living anywhere south of the [Hyde] park. Nobody knows anyone who lives south of the river.”