US wealth fund manager AllianceBernstein has been looking around for new offices in either the City or the West End for at least three years now. The question now is: City or West End?
Since May the AXA-controlled business has employed the considerable talents of Bradley Baker of Knight Frank to find them 110 000 sq ft in a single building to replace about the same amount of space currently occupied in Devonshire House W1 and close by at Mayfair Place, where they are paying are around £65 sq ft.
Prime rents in the West End are round £85 foot today, with limited incentives and limited choice. In the City headline rents are about half those in the West End - and, if you push hard, three years rent free is still available. And there are a fair number of rather fancy offices of the right size lying empty.
It is not hard to imagine that all those wealth and hedge funds so attracted to the West End in boom times might start to return to their ancient home in the City as their leases fall in. Led perhaps by AllianceBernstein - if they can finally make up their minds.