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Commercial property


Playing the waiting game


Continued economic uncertainty in the last 12 months has


caused the commercial property sector to


remain in a holding pattern, as Dave Waller discovers


T 32 PS February/March 2012


HE OUTLOOK FOR the Channel Islands’ commercial property industry has, for the past couple of


years, been summed up in three words: ‘wait and see’. When businesslife.co last examined the sector back in February 2011, this vague prognosis was uttered in tones of cautious optimism – both Jersey and Guernsey had escaped the worst of the economic suffering, and it seemed just a matter of hanging on until things inevitably picked up again. And then came Europe’s sovereign


debt crisis – foreseen by few, yet felt by many. Again, Jersey and Guernsey haven’t been affected as badly as some other areas – or at least that is how it seems at the time of writing – yet any jurisdiction tied this closely to financial markets is bound to feel the repercussions. Indeed, while no one’s exactly worried about the continued status of the islands as international finance centres, companies are still holding back on major decisions, and this means those with a vested interest in commercial property will have to wait longer still before taking their finger off the ‘pause’ button. “The letting market is stagnant,”


says Chris Daniels, Managing Director at BNP Paribas Real Estate. “On the


occupier side, especially in offices, we’ve seen a lot of caution – unless occupiers absolutely have to move, they won’t. Why go through all that aggravation and expense if they can stay put? Especially when landlords are offering attractive terms to stay where they are.” Jersey’s main high-profile office


development is 37 Esplanade, which is due for completion in Autumn 2012. Developer Dandara still hasn’t managed to fully let its 83,000 square feet of premium office space. Other developments are waiting in the wings – there’s the States of Jersey Development Company’s Esplanade Quarter, now renamed the Jersey International Finance Centre, and there is J1, which had its planning application approved in December last year. At over 260,000 square feet, J1 is believed to be the largest single development to be built in Jersey. However, there are questions as to whether either of these will proceed until all the pre-lets are signed up.


Supply and demand Over in Guernsey, the 62,000 square-foot Glategny Court saw completion in 2011, and is now home to the Guernsey Financial Services Commission, Collas Crill and Investec Bank. While activity in both islands has otherwise been largely stagnant, Guernsey has at least seen steady


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