That is all changing. Today, new office occupiers are more likely to be hipsters than barristers. In the past year, Chancery Lane has seen the arrival of advertising agency, M&C Saatchi, and its 1,000-strong workforce. They will soon be joined on the same street by Hollywood CGI specialists, Framestore, and now uber cool co-working provider, WeWork, is believed to be establishing a centre on the thoroughfare which links High Holborn with Fleet Street.
Another signature letting for the area was Verizon taking nearly 90,000 sq ft at MidCity Place for Oath – its digital advertising and media business which encompasses Yahoo and AOL.
As a new breed of Midtown occupier arrives so the restaurants, bars and other amenities are evolving. Bill’s Restaurants is opening a new concept outlet at the top of Chancery Lane, Saatchi has opened its own pub – The Pregnant Man – while new gyms and sports clinics are reflecting the fresh demographic.
The growing trend for ‘competitive socialising’ – where you eat, drink and usually play some sort of game – is spawning new attractions across Midtown offering activities such as darts, table tennis and karaoke. Hardly the sober identity that most people associate with the area.
This renaissance is being reflected in the Midtown office market’s stats: by the end of the third quarter of this year, office take-up was 1m sq ft higher than in the corresponding period in 2016.
A demand bounce-back following the political shocks of last year was expected, but the rate of take-up in Q3 – around 820,000 sq ft – was also 24% above the 10-year quarterly average. So the market is clearly being driven by more than just the decision-making that was on hold last year.
London’s office occupiers have never been more footloose than they are today. They will quite literally vote with their feet if they feel the location – and price – of somewhere is right for their business. Midtown is clearly a major beneficiary of that trend.