As London slowly but surely chips away at its housing problem, opportunities for investment continue to flow. However, investments that generate a yield as well as capital appreciation are rarer than one would think. As prices in the prime central districts continue to spiral upward and “central” London proceeds with its metamorphosis, the city’s fringes are attracting more attention from investors and residents alike.
Living in the Future
Areas like Battersea, at one time the dodgy south side, and almost anything on top of the forthcoming Crossrail line have seen their fortunes improve through ongoing regenerations or improving infrastructure. One of the most prominent of those sits somewhere in the middle: Shoreditch.
Pivoting on Old Street and City Road, the Shoreditch area borders neighbouring Farringdon, Islington and the City and is at the heart of London’s quickly expanding Tech City. Not too long ago, Shoreditch wasn’t officially in central London despite its Zone 1 postcode. Now, however, as technology industries cluster and with London continuing to sprawl, it’s a fast growing unofficial “central” district. “150,000 people are moving in there. It is a new area of London,” says Tom Appleton, founder and director of Rocket Investments. “It’s an area that’s been around for a few hundred years, but in the past five or six it’s really changed in the way people want to live there, work there and play there.”
Shoreditch is one of London’s best performing districts as well, with prices expected to rise nearly 30 percent in the next five years. “Over the past decade, Shoreditch has become a thriving area of London. Considerable gentrification has meant the average sale price has increased from £229,000 in 2003 to £485,874 in 2013,” said research by Savills last spring. “In turn, new and innovative businesses have been attracted to the area and located here in the east London Tech City or Silicon Roundabout. Shoreditch has now become a significant and world renowned tech start up location.”
Holly Stock, associate director of city and east London residential development for Jones Lang LaSalle agrees. “We obviously know what other agencies are saying. But what’s really interesting is that the numbers have been toned down. What we’re seeing this year is a much more steady market. This kind of growth — 5 percent, 5.5, 6 percent — is steady and stable. Areas like Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Mayfair are cooling. The city fringe and the east are growing at this pace because it’s about investing in the east: population growth, affordability and development land, a lot of which is in the east,” she says.
Rising in the East
It’s into this area and property climate that Rocket’s Atlas Building is coming. Situated at 145 City Road, a scant 200 metres from Old Street, the area’s tallest tower will be at the heart of Tech City and less than half an hour from landmarks such as South Bank, Oxford Circus, Westminster and Mayfair. Surrounded by international restaurants and bars and minutes from diverse retail, Shoreditch (technically in Hackney) and Atlas are the kind of modern lifestyle offering what young professionals are looking for now. “It’s all about getting that work-life balance, so moving to places like Atlas — which is a bit more fun, has got a bit more character — with a young crowd, young professionals, for the leisure is an option,” explains Stock.
The Atlas Building is Rocket’s first large scale residential project, but the developer is no stranger to the area. “We saw the building … and it wasn’t actively on the market. That was 2011,” explains Appleton of the old office tower that was on the site. “It’s an area we’ve been investing in since 2006, so we have a sort of proprietorial attitude to the area.” Rocket has developed a new office block, student housing, a hotel, and refurbished a 19th century pub among other structures in the neighbourhood. “Because of that we have a good relationship with Hackney council and it’s worked out.” Appleton and Rocket were careful to create a building they themselves would live in and that does justice to the district. The building is designed by Make Architects (Swire’s Dunbar Place) and interiors will be delivered by Woods Bagot (InterContinental Hong Kong). “We’ve put together what we think is the best possible team. We’re not a mass-market housing developer; we don’t have a formula to stick to. We’ve spent two years getting the best internal layouts, fit-outs and specifications. It stands out as an individual building as opposed to one of many,” Appleton notes.
Atlas will comprise 302 flats on 40 storeys, ranging in size from 401 square feet for studios to 1,351 square feet for three-bedroom units. All flats will have balconies and the penthouse suites will feature terraces. Among the building’s amenities are 24-hour concierge service, gym, pool, spa, private cinema and lounge — and 1G broadband for all flats. “We are in the middle of tech city. We’ve embraced it,” finishes Appleton.
The Atlas Building is scheduled for completion in late-2018. Prices are sitting at approximately £1,350 (HK$16,000) per square foot and start at roughly £500,000 (HK$6 million). For more information contact the Hong Kong sales representative, JLL on +852 2846 5782.