Google buying its current UK office for $1B as Big Tech continues to amass real estate

The news: Despite extended lockdowns and pandemic-related delays to return to work, Google is doubling down on amassing real estate by purchasing some of its UK offices for $1 billion.

How we got here: Google moved into the mixed-use Central Saint Giles compound in central London in 2011 and has purchased the property with plans on renovation and expansion, per The Wall Street Journal.

  • The Central Saint Giles complex is a cluster of buildings with 408,000 square feet of office space, 25,000 square feet of restaurants, 17,000 square feet of roof terraces, as well as 109 residential units.
  • Google is planning a multimillion-dollar refurbishment project to prepare the complex for the needs of its future workplace. 
  • Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is currently building a large HQ in King’s Cross, London, to serve as a hub for Googlers. The combined office space will accommodate 10,000 employees
  • Similar to other tech companies, Google is expecting to bring employees back into offices with a flexible workweek, although it has delayed its return-to-work date.

The bigger picture: Big Tech has the advantage of being able to buy up property and prepare it for employees as they return to work. Google, like Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon, has been amassing real estate to better position itself for expansion and acquisition.

What’s next: Expect Big Tech’s appetite for real estate to grow in 2022 as various pandemic-related opportunities to own instead of rent present themselves in key cities and hubs. 

Whether it’s as a form of investment or to control their business environment, companies like Google will continue to look at strategic real estate expansion.

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