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Group Thursday 17th April 2014

A DRINK WITH NICK SEARL

A DRINK WITH NICK SEARL

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Nick leads the commercial team at the huge King’s Cross development, and primarily deals with the strategy, leasing and management of the office and retail components.

Having enjoyed some sunshine in the square, the two headed into The Grain Store for a drink and a chat…

What are you having, Nick?

Anything other than whisky – it’s the work of the devil. Preferably a very cold, glass of crisp Alborino white from north west Spain, thanks.

How was 2013?

Astonishing. It was the first year of our newly formed Argent LLP, we moved offices to King’s Cross and the business grew substantially. We announced the Airport City development in Manchester and the Paradise Circus project in Birmingham. And it felt like King’s Cross really came of age.

Starting with the Google deal in January we signed five major office deals during the year, and successfully pre-let the whole of our first spec office building before construction was complete.

This is now also a place to live and play: we’ve had hugely successful residential sales while the restaurants and public events are attracting huge visitor numbers.

What’s new at King’s Cross?

Well we’re on site with two more residential buildings, we’re building a primary school, we’ll be starting construction of two – possibly three – new office buildings and we’ll be converting the Victorian Midland Goods Shed and East Handyside Canopy into a new home for Waitrose. They’re opening a cookery school alongside their supermarket.

We’ll also be opening Pancras Square, Cubitt Square and Cubitt Park: all major new public spaces for London. And there will be another six new cafés and restaurants to serve the 6,000-plus office workers we expect to be here by early 2015. This year it’s all about maintaining momentum and providing a great experience for our tenants, owners and visitors.

What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on at the moment?

Where to start? I think two of the projects at King’s Cross stand out. Firstly, the as yet unnamed R7 office development is really interesting. We are in concept design for a building that will be geared to an audience of smaller businesses looking for more flexible leasing arrangements in a building that has a real sense of identity and community.

Secondly, and possibly the most exciting element at King’s Cross, is Coal Drops Yard. The refurbishment and conversion of the magnificent Victorian coal drops sheds into around 100,000 sq ft of unique retailing destination is a real challenge.

We’re gradually building a clear vision of the retailers we want to attract and the nature of the place we want to create. It’s a real one off opportunity and we’re all very excited by the challenge

What’s the toughest part of your job?

Probably the hours. It’s definitely not 9-5. But I work with an extraordinary group of people at Argent and we work on some extraordinary developments. So it’s well worth it.

What makes it all worthwhile?

Every morning I walk through Granary Square, and the hair stands up on the back of my neck. That and the friends that I’ve made working at Argent definitely make it all worthwhile.

The Grain Store is the latest restaurant by Chef Bruno Loubet and The Zetter Group’s Michael Benyan and Mark Sainsbury.

Following on from the extraordinary success of Bistrot Bruno Loubet and The Zetter Townhouse, they have joined forces with pioneering drinks creator, Tony Conigliaro, to create this exciting new restaurant and bar at Granary Square in King’s Cross.

Critics have hailed Loubet’s veg-centric menu and Conigliaro’s ingenious creations.

The Guardian commented: “This is sunny food… and there’s a heavy emphasis on imaginative cocktails: truffle martini, tuberose Collins. It all feels very forward-thinking, rather than rooted in the past”.

The Grainstore is open daily, visit grainstore.com for further details. The Grain StoreGranary Square1-3 Stable StreetKing’s CrossLondon N1C 4AB