Property

Creative Living

Creative LivingDid you hear? It’s an Olympic Year. That’s good news for people in many quarters: sports fanatics, old school broadcasters bleeding viewers to cable outlets, sponsors who forked out millions of dollars to get their logo in front of as many eyeballs as possible (estimated at four billion for the Opening and Closing ceremonies). The Olympic Games is big business, and not surprisingly that trickles down to property.

Big-ticket events often mean new awareness of and a spike in interest in a city’s real estate market in the lead up to the event itself. Vancouver and Atlanta are the most recent recipients of the Olympic bump, and Cape Town allegedly experienced a spike in the lead up to South Africa’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2010, another enormous global event. But not everyone needs the help. Like London.

London’s property market is an entity unto itself and doesn’t really need a bump, Olympic or otherwise. Roaring back after a brief downturn in 2009, London is back to outperforming almost every investment market on the planet. Its status as an economic, political, cultural and, for a few weeks, sporting leader make it a perennial investment favourite. “Central London was the strongest performer in the rental markets over the last year increasing by approximately 3.2 percent,” explains Charles Leigh, senior director of CBRE London. “The prime rental markets of London saw values increase by a modest 1.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012, reversing the small falls seen in rents at the end of 2011,” according to Savills he notes.

Recently the city has seen a clutch of new developments come onto the market, almost all billed as exclusive living for a select few right on the Thames or around the corner from Buckingham. But London is a sprawling megacity with dozens of unsung districts. One of those is Fitzrovia, an ideal destination for investors seeking something that stands out from the pack. “Fitzroy Place in Fitzrovia is the epitome of creativity and uniqueness to steal investor limelight,” states Daniel Van Gelder, co-founder of developer Exemplar Properties. Van Gelder points out that other developments along the river are physically separated from London’s beating heart, and notes that Mayfair, Soho, Marylebone and Regent’s Park are all walking distance from Fitzroy Place. “London is a city best enjoyed on foot and from Fitzroy Place you can walk everywhere,” he finishes.

London’s property market is an entity unto itself and doesn’t really need a bump, Olympic or otherwise. Roaring back after a brief downturn in 2009, London is back to outperforming almost every investment market on the planet. Its status as an economic, political, cultural and, for a few weeks, sporting leader make it a perennial investment favourite. “Central London was the strongest performer in the rental markets over the last year increasing by approximately 3.2 percent,” explains Charles Leigh, senior director of CBRE London. “The prime rental markets of London saw values increase by a modest 1.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012, reversing the small falls seen in rents at the end of 2011,” according to Savills he notes.

Recently the city has seen a clutch of new developments come onto the market, almost all billed as exclusive living for a select few right on the Thames or around the corner from Buckingham. But London is a sprawling megacity with dozens of unsung districts. One of those is Fitzrovia, an ideal destination for investors seeking something that stands out from the pack. “Fitzroy Place in Fitzrovia is the epitome of creativity and uniqueness to steal investor limelight,” states Daniel Van Gelder, co-founder of developer Exemplar Properties. Van Gelder points out that other developments along the river are physically separated from London’s beating heart, and notes that Mayfair, Soho, Marylebone and Regent’s Park are all walking distance from Fitzroy Place. “London is a city best enjoyed on foot and from Fitzroy Place you can walk everywhere,” he finishes.

Fitzrovia is rich in cultural history and what Van Gelder calls the creative spirit. The area has seen some of the world’s leading writers, artists and creative thinkers pound its pavements. Among those? Charles Dickens, Guy Ritchie, George Orwell, Karl Marx, Jimi Hendrix and Virginia Woolf. It’s a hotbed for the creative industries, with ad giant Saatchi & Saatchi, media organisations like Time Out and one-tenth of all the city’s art galleries located here. That’s not surprising. The district is also home to University College, King’s College, the London School of Economics (alma mater of Mick Jagger), and campuses of the Royal Academy of Music and the London College of Fashion. “Fitzrovia has been a magnet for students from around the world for centuries,” Van Gelder notes. Think of it as an English-language South Bank.

Fitzroy Place, scheduled for completion in 2014, will be a luxury mixed-used property comprising 320,00 square feet of office, retail and public space in addition to 237 studio to three-bedroom suites (plus a limited number of penthouses). Architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Sheppard Robson plan to capture and emulate Fitzrovia’s intensely historical and cultural personality, and interior design comes courtesy of Johnson Naylor, who Van Gelder says, “describes Fitzroy Place as the epitome of creativity that will be an undeniable lure to its residents. The design uses natural and authentic elements and attention to detail, clean lines without cutting corners, modern yet with traditional values … Fitzrovia is a historically significant location. Significant care has been taken in the design of Fitzroy Place to match and fit into the current architecture fabric of Fitzrovia.” Residents will automatically be enrolled in The Fitzroy Club, which will include theatre, business centre, gym, library, playroom and private dining area access — and there’s bicycle parking to go along with a secure carpark.

Van Gelder and Leigh both expect Fitzroy Place to generate strong interest from overseas investors, particularly in Asia. The combination of a new-build in land-tight London, its proximity to major landmarks, accessibility to Heathrow, capital growth potential and strong rental yields all within the confines of a safe haven (the UK) play into Fitzroy Place’s favour. “Fitzrovia is one of the up and coming districts in London. While nearby developments in Hyde Park rose to pre-2008 and 2009 rate of £3,000 (HK$36,000) per square foot, Fitzroy Place is offering at £1,700 per square foot. With an extremely limited land bank in Central London and rising demand for rental properties, Fitzroy Place presents a healthy appreciation in terms of asset value and rental growth. Overall Fitzroy Place is a unparalleled development,” finishes Leigh. The only downside? Not being able to throw Olympic parties there — at least not this year.