Canary Wharf's second residential project

Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf is as classic a business district as Wall Street. When the area was first developed back in the 1980s following the closure of the docks, it was purely a commercial district, largely dead at night. “If you say ‘Canary Wharf’ to anyone, they think Barclays, Citibank, JP Morgan,” begins Brian De’ath, director of residential sales for Canary Wharf Group. “But over the last five years the TMT sector has gained significant momentum and is driving the huge diversification of the tenant mix. Right now, banks and insurance make up only around 40% of the square footage take on the estate.” That’s given Canary Wharf a fresh perspective and London its newest residential destination.

More than banks

True to form, the TMT— the technology, media, and telecom — industries have given the area new life by bringing in a new type of workforce, one that prefers public transit to driving and ideally walks to work. With 53 tech companies now occupying space in the area, a new personality had to be created. “It’s just natural to diversify your portfolio. When we looked at the TMT sector, their considerations and the capacity of the estate, residential made perfect sense,” says De’ath.
“And really, residential is the Davy Crockett of the [development] world. They’re the pioneers. The opportunity is massive. It’s very, very unusual to find somewhere with 17 million square feet of commercial, one million of retail and not one place to live.”

Contrary to how it may appear, Canary Wharf’s diversification has little to do with competing projects — King’s Cross, Battersea, Old Street — that have the potential to lure away those TMT tenants as well as MNCs flirting with co-working spaces, which gravitate to “cool” neighbourhoods. “Cool is in the eye of the beholder. We don’t exist to be Shoreditch. King’s Cross is King’s Cross. We’re Canary Wharf,” argues De’ath. “Our brand has been recognised internationally for a number of years, and the TMT sector that has started to come here wants phenomenal infrastructure, buildings that work and an estate that’s managed to executive standards.”

Canary Wharf

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Despite the lack of residences, the area is already a destination for shopping, welcoming 46.9 million shoppers annually and De’ath is proud to point out the group owns London’s largest public outdoor art collection. Notably, the first two residential towers on Canary Wharf — 10 Park Drive and the just-launched One Park Drive — are the start of a larger commitment to residential life on Canary Wharf. The so-called New District (formerly Wood Wharf), set for completion in 2023, will span 21 acres and five million square feet of mixed-use real estate, comprising 3,300 homes, 1.9 million square feet of office space and 380,000 square feet of retailing, as well as hotels, nine acres of public green space, health care facilities and schools to go along with regular events. Among the architects contributing to the ambitious plans are Grid Architects, Darling Associates, KPF and Stanton Williams. Crucial to the scheme’s success is connectivity, which at Canary Wharf is second to none: four train stations (including a new Crossrail station) serve the area; City Airport is accessible in 20 minutes and Heathrow in 40.

“Canary Wharf is incredibly well-connected, with 120,000 people coming to work every day, not to mention a million people visiting each week. Transport infrastructure to support this population is already in place. Crossrail… will transform the connections in and out of the city and will dramatically increase capacity at Canary Wharf.”

A place to call home

Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf’s status as just a business district is changing quickly, beyond simple diversification for the group. Now, “Canary Wharf is where the business district meets the wider residential area,” says JLL’s Mandy Wong, head of international properties. “[It] has been extensively redeveloped in the last decade and has become a very livable district, with plenty of cultural and entertainment options that suit the most discerning tastes.” De’ath is more succinct: “The residential proposition adds something new to the mix,” he asserts. “It will also soften the way Canary Wharf is experienced by people.”

Renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron (Beijing’s Birds Nest Olympic Stadium) are making their residential debut in the UK with One Park Drive, an eye-catching 58-storey round tower. “Residential high rises are conventionally characterised by the negative qualities of sameness and too much repetition,” said Jacques Herzog in a statement. “One Park Drive has three distinct zones offering different types of accommodation that are clearly expressed offering a sense of individuality in a larger development.”

The three zones are each defined by a distinct typology, though De’ath assures buyers the 483 units are indeed square on the inside. “You try and furnish around building and it’s a nightmare.”

Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf

The Loft flats (level 2 through 9) are among the largest (studio flats start at 435 square feet), featuring high ceilings, wrap-around terraces and closer connection to the surrounding greenery and water. Cluster apartments begin on level 10, where floorplates are mirrored and rotated for more dynamic visuals and airier ambience. From level 33 to 57 are the Bay apartments. Here, orthogonal geometry and the building’s curvature connect, resulting in double height, recessed terraces, maximum natural light and stellar views of the city. Comprehensive facilities complement bespoke, integrated kitchens, underfloor heating, natural stone and wood materials, wine coolers and appliances by Siemens.

Not surprisingly, the property makes for a strong investment case due to the relatively weak sterling, and rental yields predicted in the range of 4% gross. “Because of the scarcity of residential properties of this quality in Central London, One Park Drive promises to be an investment that will keep its value over time,” finishes JLL’s Wong. Prices at One Park Drive begin at £575,000 (HK$5.8 million).

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