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LONDON-The first big office build at King’s Cross Central is set to get underway in May. The nine-story, 570,000-square-foot corporate headquarters for UK food retailer Sainbury’s was given the go-ahead earlier this month by the London Borough of Camden. The US$143-million construction project is one of a couple of dozen office buildings planned for King’s Cross, an 8-million-square-foot, master-planned mixed-use development on 67 acres of former railroad yard adjacent to King’s Cross Station.

Sainsbury’s new headquarters will reportedly include not only office space but also retail, small business units, a gymnasium, and cooking research and demonstration suites. It will be located to the north of the former Eastern Goods Yard buildings, which architecture firm Stanton Williams is converting into a new home for the University of the Arts, London.

Allies and Morrison designed the Sainsbury building; developer Argent is overseeing its construction. Incorporating rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling and its own cogeneration plant, the design achieved an “excellent” rating under the BRE Environmental Assessment Method, the UK’s equivalent to the US Green Building Council’s LEED certification program in the US. Completion is slated for early 2012.

Allies and Morrison also helped design the overall Kings Cross Central master plan, which won approval in December 2006. The overall plan calls for 4.9 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail, 2,000 new housing units (40% of them affordable), 10 new public spaces and the restoration of 20 historic buildings and structures.

King’s Cross Central is being developed by a partnership of three companies: Argent King’s Cross LP, which is backed by Argent Group and Hermes Real Estate on behalf of the BT Pension Scheme; London & Continental Railways Limited, which delivered the High Speed 1 railway; and DHL Exel Supply Chain.

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