London Bridge job falls to O'Rourke

CONTRACTS - COMMERCIAL

LAING O'Rourke has nipped in to claim one of its first big successes of 2006 ? a £50 million office scheme close to London Bridge railway station.

The work will involve building an office block for developer Great Portland Estates in Tooley Street on the southside of the River Thames.

Bovis Lend Lease, Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska were all in the running at various points since the job came up for grabs last summer.

But the contest was whittled down to a two-way scrap between Bovis Lend Lease and Laing O'Rourke and the latter eventually grabbed the preferred bidder position earlier this month. It will now negotiate the deal during the second stage of the tender process.

A source at a rival firm said: 'Laing O'Rourke has taken it and I expect it will be a few months of negotiations and then financial close.

'I think their price was down at around £30 million but there is a long way to go. Depending on what the client decides it does and does not want, that might be more like £50 million. That was the thought last summer when the job first came up.' Great Portland Estates spent more than £20 million on sites around Tooley Street last year in a bid to capitalise on the regeneration of the area. Its acquisitions include two investment properties, two empty office buildings and a 0.5 ha plot forming a 'development island' next to the More London site, which is currently a hive of construction activity.

The contractors were vying to build the project on the plot to the rear. Proposals are for around 160,000 sq ft of office space.

Plans submitted to Southwark Borough Council last March included a 12-storey tower at the back of the site and a second office block.

Construction work on the two-year scheme is expected to begin by early summer.

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