The company has agreed to take on all of the 227,324 sq ft of office space at One Rathbone Square, a new development by Great Portland Estates (GPE) on a site sold by Royal Mail in 2011. The sale had been criticised because the price paid for the prime 2.3-acre site was £120m and the project has been forecast to generate a profit of almost £100m.
Under the deal announced on Friday, Facebook will pay an initial rent of £16.9m a year to occupy the building after getting the first 30 months of its tenancy rent-free. Staff are expected to move in after the building’s completion in February 2017 and Facebook has signed up for 15 years without a break clause.
More space, currently allocated for retail, will also be rented by Facebook, subject to Westminster city council agreeing a change of use. The company has been given first refusal on other buildings on Oxford Street.
The firm’s current UK base is near Euston, where it almost doubled its office footprint earlier this year to more than 150,000 sq ft, so its new home will mark another big increase in space. The firm would not say how many staff will be employed in the new building, although industry averages suggest an office of this size could accommodate 2,000.
The offices are close to Tottenham Court Road station, currently getting a major overhaul as part of the new Crossrail development, which is set to bring faster links to Heathrow and Canary Wharf.
Facebook’s head of real estate, Robert Cookson, said: “The move to our new offices at One Rathbone Square highlights our commitment to invest and grow our talented teams of people based in London, from engineering and analytics to partnerships and design, who help us connect over a billion people on Facebook across the world.”
Cookson said it was a fantastic opportunity to occupy a high-quality development in the West End. “The location has excellent amenities and connectivity, with the very best the city has to offer right on the doorstep, including Crossrail once it is established,” he added.
Neil Thompson, portfolio director of GPE, said: “We’ve long believed in the potential of the east end of Oxford Street, and have built an enviable portfolio of developments totalling almost 700,000 sq ft in the area. An endorsement of this scale from one of the world’s largest and most recognised brands, along with the arrival of Crossrail in 2018, will help transform this exciting part of the West End.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010