Dreary. Dull. An office ghetto. A dead centre. All these negative terms have been used from time to time over the last couple of decades to describe the central London district of Victoria. Its only advantage thus far has been a stunning location with excellent transport links: Victoria train station, the London underground and bus stations are all right smack in the heart of the district.
But a massive £2.2 billion, 2.2 million sq ft redevelopment of Victoria Street, SW1, which started little over 10 years ago by the United Kingdom’s largest commercial property developer Land Securities, soon looks set to bring new life to the once-lacklustre though historic location. Once Victoria’s metamorphosis is over, a vibrant district looks set to emerge as one of central London’s most enviable places to live and work in by the end of 2016.
“Victoria was pretty dull to be honest, given where it is, right in central London, with Buckingham Palace at one end of Victoria Street and the Houses of Parliament at the other,” says Tom Eshelby, residential director of Land Securities. He adds that Victoria’s neighbouring suburbs — Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Chelsea — are established, prestigious and synonymous with high-end residential.
The grand plan is for Victoria to be a much more liveable environment and a first-rate destination to live, eat and shop. Besides better architecture and new retail, Land Securities also aims to create “urban permeability”, so that people can walk through Victoria Street and into “quieter pedestrian plazas”, have lunch or shop.
One of Land Securities’ notable projects on Victoria Street is the recently completed Kings Gate luxury residential development with 100 state-of-the-art apartments. Casting aside by-the-numbers designs, renowned British architect Patrick Lynch has worked his magic on the exterior. He also designed The Zig Zag Building, a new office building next door that’s part of the same project. Lynch created a 15-storey building with a sophisticated British feel that takes inspiration from iconic landmarks close by, such as Buckingham Palace — just down the street — and the Houses of Parliament, as well as Italian Renaissance influences.
Kings Gate has four three-storey penthouses, all guaranteeing a bird’s eye view of the city. Each penthouse has four bedrooms and is of a size starting from 3,337 sq ft, are full of light with floor-to-ceiling windows, have private bedroom quarters, 920 sq ft roof gardens and a Georgian-style staircase leading to an outdoor space.
Helmed by Millier Design, the Kings Gate apartments’ interiors exude quiet luxury: polished limestone flooring, solid timbre front doors, rich oak flooring as well as natural materials and finishes in a neutral, earthy palette. Facilities include secure underground parking, a 24-hour concierge service and private balconies or terraces for most of the apartments.
Says Tom, “It’s a good-looking, handsome building. And once you get into the building, it exudes a calm sophistication. The biggest apartments have a good sense of space and light, the rooms are decent sizes and the materials are high quality. So it should appeal to anyone that wants a well-designed apartment in the heart of London.”
Not forgetting that this is a development with a prime central London address without the Mayfair price tag: Prices for Kings Gate three-bedroom apartments start from about £3.4 million, or from about £2,782 per sq ft. Those for the triplex penthouses are on application. As for the investment potential for Victoria, Tom explains: “Most forecasters say it’s about 20 per cent over the next five years, but it’s incredibly hard to predict.
Whatever happens in the prime central London market in the next five years, you’d expect Victoria to outperform that just because it’s got that story of new development. “Buyers at either Kings Gate or The Nova Building can take some confidence that they’re buying into an area that sits within prime central London and has a story all of its own. It’s a complete transformation.”
In the Vicinity
Besides Kings Gate, Land Securities is also developing The Nova Building, which sits within a wider mixed-use development. Within this 897,000 sq ft development are 170 luxury apartment units, ranging from studio to four-bedroom penthouses. There will also be a private cinema, gym as well as a residents’ lounge and roof garden — complete with expansive views of the London lights below.
What’s distinctive about The Nova Building is that the complex is being touted as a foodie destination with its own restaurant quarter. To be finished in phases from the middle to the end of 2016, Nova will have 18 eateries by big-name chefs and restaurateurs, such as Jason Atherton, of Pollen Singapore fame, Ross Shonhan, from restaurants Bone Daddies and Flesh & Buns, as well as Adam White, co-founder of restaurant groups Village London and D&D London.
These openings are so highly anticipated that The Nova Building has even been mentioned on restaurant review website and guidebook Zagat as one of London’s five up-and-coming foodie neighbourhoods to watch.
Pricing: Kings Gate’s remaining three-bedroom units average £3.5m, Penthouses are circa £10m (Average £2000 - £3000/sq ft exclusive of supersized units)