In Hackney’s south end, perched on the three-way border between the City of London, Islington (the location of Clerkenwell, Farringdon and Kings Cross) and Tower Hamlets (Canary Wharf, Whitechapel and Aldgate) is One Crown Place, the latest addition to London’s slowly regenerating skyline. Not far from its more recognisable neighbours, Hackney has a long, colourful history that’s often overshadowed by the more high-profile Westminster and, increasingly, Southwark. But Time Out London called Hackney the spot, “Where high art and edgy innovation meet.” The area is loaded with stellar restaurants, trendy bars and pubs like the traditional Flying Horse, and chic shopping, including the Broadway Market. And soon it will have its own landmark residential address.
As it has been the case in recent months, the relatively favourable sterling has spurred not just individual buyers to finally dive in and purchase property in the UK, but in many cases, it has given institutional investors and developers the final push they needed to enter the market. Though Malaysian conglomerate AlloyMtd Group was already gearing up for residential development (UK planning and permission takes years).
“The launch of One Crown Place is an exciting moment for us, and represents a real landmark scheme in an area that is continually evolving for the better,” said Alloy president and CEO Dr. Azmil Khalid in a statement. “The development is truly mixed-use, offering the highest standards in both residential and retail with top British design, creating a new live-work hub right on the edge of the City of London. One Crown Place is set to become a vibrant destination that is not just Monday-to-Friday, nine-to-five.”
Indeed, the EC2 postcode is turning into a true 24-hour district, and as a result CBRE estimates rentals for One Crown Place could reach as high as £4,000 per month for one-bedroom flats, and up to £19,500 for three-bedroom duplexes; gross yields should range between 2.9 and 4.9%. Given the location, the tenant pool will comprise of skilled tech and finance workers, arts, culture, and medical professionals as well as a healthy number of students. “From an investment perspective London has key factors that make it a safe haven, but it’s not necessarily just a yield play. It’s knowing your money will be safe, with significant capital growth opportunities,” theorises Tom Bryant, director of UK Residential, CBRE.
One Crown Place is just the latest “fantastic” and “spectacular” London project to roll through Hong Kong over the last few years. Savvy investors have seen it all, so what sets the project apart? “There is certainly a uniqueness to the design — how the building is shaped, the way it’s orientated to maximise views, and the façades of the building are very distinct from other towers in London. People are welcome to… form an opinion as to whether this is special. We believe it is. We believe we’ve designed a building that feels like it was always supposed to have been there. We’ve used terracotta on the outside to reflect the local area and the Victorian shop fronts. The terraces nicely blend the old and the new to create a ‘place’. I think that, combined with its location, makes for a really special building,” argues Bryant. “We think this will appeal to a wide range of people and anyone who would appreciate a quality building and great design.”
Past and present
Standing on what was once a pair of mid-rise office blocks, One Crown Place will be two new towers — north (on sale) and south — designed by Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF), incorporating an adjacent Georgian terrace, soon to be restored to house a boutique hotel and the resident’s clubhouse. The old offices had a curious backstory. “The site was owned by [Swiss bank] UBS and they had plans for it, but then they bought Finsbury Square.
They went there and sold the site,” explains Henry Robinson, director of London development for CBRE. “It was occupied by Occupy London for a while, and before we demolished the building we took photos of all the graffiti inside. It’s an interesting part of the history.”
A few minutes from Moorgate and Liverpool stations (a Crossrail stop), One Crown Place is also a short jaunt to the Shoreditch creative hub and the Old Street silicon roundabout, both in the grips of extensive regeneration themselves. “This project means a great deal to me. We are a modernist firm and embrace modern architecture but we feel it should have soul and character, humanity and a rich spatial and material experience,” says KPF Principal John Bushell. “Our vision for One Crown Place was to respect its context, using the buildings and materials of the past and evolve this into a really intricate and innovative design which will transform the local area.” The contextual elements begin with the warehouse-style lobby with its library vibe.
The mixed-use project in the Sun Street conservation area will also feature 147,000 square feet of office and retail space to go with the renowned pub on the corner. “The Flying Horse is one of the [city’s] only sticky carpet pubs. It’s a traditional London pub and attracts so many people,” enthuses Robinson. The apartment towers will comprise of 246 flats (133 of which are one-bedrooms), with the requisite features: seventh floor private amenities, state-of-the-art gym, dining room, lounge, cinema, studio, terrace and 24-hour security and concierge services. The homes themselves will be defined by a contemporary design (by Bowler James Brindley and Studio Ashby in the penthouses) boasting five-star touches like mosaic tiling in bathrooms, herringbone pattern flooring and recessed shelving.