EC3 in the City of London is home to the historic, internationally renowned insurance and finance district and is fast becoming one of the most dynamic areas in the City – Map of EC3.
Bordered by Tower Hill in the east and Monument in the west, it is home to globally recognised landmarks, including the Tower of London and the Monument to the Great Fire of London.
Lloyd’s of London has been trading as an insurance market for over 330 years and the EC3 postal district has been its home for the majority of that time. At the heart of the district is the main market building, Lloyd’s of London Building at 1 Lime Street, the principal street within the “Lloyd’s Triangle”, bounded by Leadenhall Street, Gracechurch Street & Fenchurch Street.
Every day, more than 50 leading insurance companies, over 200 registered Lloyd’s brokers and a global network of over 4,000 local cover holders operate and bring in business to the Lloyd’s market. At the end of 2018, Lloyd’s had £53.5bn of syndicate level assets; £26.50bn of members’ funds at Lloyds; over £3.20bn in a third mutual link including the central fund, plus a £0.90bn callable layer. It’s the only insurance market of its type in the world.
Unsurprisingly, proximity to the market building continues to be a major attraction for the world’s leading underwriters and brokers with Willis Towers Watson, WR Berkley, AON and Amlin centred around 1 Lime Street and many other global names nearby including Tokio Marine Kiln, Liberty, Markel, ACE, Swiss Re, Argo, and XL Re.
In the past three years, Lime Street has also attracted a number of expanding mid-size insurers including Antares (now QIC) which pre-let 26,000sq.ft at 21 Lime St in 2017, Scor which bought 31-33 Lime St (31,000sf) for its own occupation part way through construction & Everest which pre-let it’s now heavily branded ground floor accommodation at 40 Lime St. The rationale for many insurers for a presence in Lime Street is direct access to and from the Lloyd’s building and the ability to create “broker lounges” that facilitate face to face meetings for brokers and underwriters. Whilst insurers fully embrace the digital world, the vast majority still visit Lloyd’s daily, and proximity is preferred by many making Lime St the sector’s prime address.
EC3 is also home to the City of London’s principal tower cluster – a planning policy devised to create a single location for high rise office buildings not affected by St Paul’s height restrictions. These Towers are an outstanding feature of the EC3 office market and are frequently best known by their nicknames! These include Land Securities/Canary Wharf Group’s 20 Fenchurch Street (aka The Walkie Talkie and sold to Hong Kong investor Lee Kum Lee) ), The 720,000sf Leadenhall Building (aka The Cheesegrater, headquarters to insurance giant AON and bought by CC Land in 2018 for an eye watering £1.15 billion!). The renowned “Gherkin” at 30 St Mary Axe is home to SwissRE whilst Nuveen’s striking elliptical 300,000sf “Can of Ham” at 70 St Mary Axe has enjoyed rapid lettings to lawyers Sidley Austin, Hana, and Montagu Evans. Following purchase of the site US insurer WR Berkely completed its 700,000sf “Scalpel” HQ in 2019 with successful letting of surplus floors. Brookfield has enjoyed remarkable pre letting success of its 950,000 sq ft 100 Bishopsgate to Jefferies Bank Royal Bank of Canada and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. EC3 is home to many major insurance/financial occupiers, including AIG, Aviva, AXA, Hiscox, QBE, Royal London, M+G Investments, Willis Towers Watson, XL Catlin, Vanquis Bank, and Zurich Insurance Group. Other legal occupiers include Clyde & Co LLP, DWF LLP, Latham & Watkins LLP , Vinson & Elkins LLP, and Kennedys.
The area is set for further major development schemes (and yet more titles).40 Leadenhall Street will add a further 900,000 sf within several stepped blocks rising to 34 storeys with terraces down towards the river and the Tower of London. It steps back on Leadenhall Street to remain out of sight from Fleet Street and the ceremonial route to St Paul’s whilst staying sympathetic to 19–21 Billiter Street, a Grade II-listed building on the site. Projecting further into the mid 2020s Brockton Everlast is likely to redevelop three of the four buildings comprised within the Houndsditch Estate whilst Lai Sun /London & Oriental has planning consent for the knockdown and rebuild of 100-107 Leadenhall Street for a 56 storey, 1.1m sf redevelopment to complete in 2026. Brookfield is in the early stages of construction of its 580,000sf new build at One Leadenhall Street though the rumoured sale to Munich Re failed to progress in late 2019
With particular regard to the southern end of Lime Street, this location has been identified in the Corporation’s 2036 Development Plan as an extension of the tower cluster area, so that 70 Gracechurch Street, 10 Fenchurch Street, 60 Gracechurch Street & 130 Fenchurch Street are all potential sites to join 20 Fenchurch Street (“The Walkie Talkie”) as tower buildings. Especially so as they are now all in Chinese ownership and therefore less likely to be troubled by a short term outlook or funding issues.
Office rents in EC3 vary of course. The lure of the Lloyds Building in Lime Street for insurance occupiers sees rents in the so-called “Triangle” 20-25% above the figures seen outside that immediate locality. The Cheesegrater has witnessed some of the highest rents ever recorded in the City with a landmark figure of £107 psf on the highest floors
Leadenhall Market is at the heart of EC3, dating back to the 14th century and is one of the oldest markets in London. Attracting City workers and tourists, it provides a mix of restaurants, bars, and shops. The notable increase in footfall within EC3 has attracted retail occupiers, with Newlook, Marks & Spencer, GAP and TK Maxx operating stores together with the ubiquitous Boots. The Royal Exchange provides a stylish dining and shopping destination housing a range of restaurants and retailers such as Hermés, Louis Vuitton, Lulu Guinness, Montblanc, Penhaligon’s, and Tiffany & Co.
Prompted by the City of London’s support for hotel Change of Use applications since 2005, there is a range of hotels situated in EC3, including the Club Quarters Hotel Gracechurch and the Motel One Minories. CitizenM Tower Hill offers its achingly contemporary 236 bedroom hotel above Tower Hill station overlooking World Heritage site The Tower Of London, the world’s longest running tourist attraction.
The co-working and serviced office market is increasingly established in EC3 with operators in 22 Bishopsgate and 80 Fenchurch (Convene), Fenchurch Avenue (Argyll), One Fen Court, and 50 Eastcheap (WeWork). Leading UK training, conference, and event provider ETC Venues has several EC3 offerings including Monument, 8 Fenchurch Place, and 133 Houndsditch.
Transport links in EC3 are various, with underground services linking into Bank (Central, DLR, Northern, Waterloo & City lines), Monument (Circle & District lines), and Aldgate (Circle & Metropolitan lines). Fenchurch Street station provides mainline services to Essex.
BBG has a plethora of occupier clients in EC3, including AIR Worldwide, Lark Insurance, Advent Solutions, ETC Venues, Harmonic Capital Partners, and Caplin Services. Successful lettings have been realised for landlord clients in Botolph Lane, Leadenhall Street with current mandates in Lime Street for Moorgarth.