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Despite the very real cautions coming from various voices over the looming Brexit, none of the shine has come of investing in the UK, specifically London, in the last year. While no one truly knows what’s going to happen, banks are hedging their bets, Ireland’s border is a political football again, immigration rules could put a dent in the medical and professorial corps, the UK corporate model has come under the microscope with MNC Unilever considering a move from London to Rotterdam and its progressive corporate culture, and taxpayers should brace for a potential tax hike to pay for everything from car plates to arts promotion.

None of that has scared away Hong Kong billionaire entrepreneur Henry Cheng, owner of the developer Knight Dragon, whose am Greenwich Peninsula sits on a jut in thebitious, nearly £9 billion Greenwich Peninsula project is well underway. With nearly 1,500 flats already housing 2,000 residents, the latest phase to go up for sale is the SOM Architects-designed No.3 Upper Riverside. Welcome to New London.


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Rise of the East 
Thames between Canary Wharf and the Royal Docks (with London City Airport next door). A barren patch of land for decades, Knight Dragon was astounded no one had snapped up the site before they finally did. “[The site] was the biggest gasworks in Europe for most of the 20th century. There was no transport, no Jubilee Line, no DLR. It was all docks until it closed down in the ’80s,” explains Knight Dragon CEO Richard Margee of the site’s spotted history. “Then Stratford was earmarked for development 25 years ago, then they built the Millennium Dome—which was a financial disaster and only had a one-year planning consent. It couldn’t be sold, no one would touch it with a barge pole.”

But eventually Anschutz Entertainment Group purchased the doomed Millennium Dome, rebranded it as The O2 Arena, and the transformation began. In the very near future, addresses at Greenwich Peninsula will have Canary Wharf Crossrail station at their doorstep, The O2 Arena practically next door, and the growing buzz around Tower Bridge all contributing to the rebirth of the East End—or simply New London.

“We are focusing on the emergence of the East … The regeneration around London Bridge—Borough Market, Bermondsey—[will] define the West and the East; that will be heavily moved by the bridge,” explains Margee of the shift from wasteland to a reinvigorated destination. “That’s why we call it New London. King’s Cross started with a very nice basis. We had Canary Wharf, the City Airport, which was never supposed to be what it is, and a few Tube stations we were fortunate enough to have someone else pay for. What we were determined to do was bring style, starting with the first brick, to a big scheme.”


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When complete in roughly 20 years, Greenwich Peninsula will be a renewed 150 acres, nearly one-third of that open green space, featuring 2.5 kilometres of riverfront, 3.5 million square feet of retail, hotels, schools and public amenities, including a waterside park modelled on New York’s High Line. The district is expected to generate 13,000 new jobs, with 250,000 more across the river at Canary Wharf by 2030—in other words a strong tenant pool—and it will have 34,000 residents in 15,000 new homes across seven new districts: Central, Design District, Upper and Lower Riverside, Parkside, Meridian Quays and Brickfields. Knight Dragon is forecasting roughly 15% appreciation over five years for No.3 Upper Riverside, which right now is competitively priced at £1,000 per square foot. The investment case is there. “London is still a very safe haven, and still a place investors are seeking assets,” argues JLL’s Mandy Wong. “Transaction costs are low compared to Hong Kong, Vancouver, Toronto, and Singapore, which still have heavy duties. New York’s costs are low but when you factor in holding costs London is more attractive.”

Community Living
Best known for designing the Burj Khalifa and the new One World Trade Center in Manhattan, the glass-friendly studio SOM’s contribution to Greenwich Peninsula is five distinct towers on the river, each with a singular stepped glass prism aesthetic that floods the residence interiors with light. The five buildings will share the residents’ Upper Riverside Club, whose amenities will include private cinemas, entertaining and dining space, and the Tom Dixon-designed Renew—featuring a comprehensive raft of wellness and relaxation facilities. 


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No.3 Upper Riverside comprises of 126 one- to three-bedroom flats, ranging in size from 576 to 1,101 square feet. Interiors, by Studio Ashby, feature materials from oak to marble to terrazzo, all reflecting the Thames-side palette inside the flexible, open plan layouts. Above all, Margee hopes the flats will be real homes, and that the design will cultivate permanence. 

“The idea is to be distinctive. These buildings will never be replaced. A lot of time has been spent underground, installing green energy sources and so on. We’ll have seven districts with the same DNA winding through them, but whatever your circumstances—a single person or a growing family—you can come and go within Greenwich. If you can create enough compelling reasons to not drive by, you’ll stay there,” finishes Margee. “It sounds self-serving when we talk about communities, but this place won’t work if people are in and out. That’s not what we want to do. If you create an itinerant place, no one puts roots down. You won’t feel like you’re part of a community, and with 150 acres of London we have a bigger responsibility to do more; to do better.”

No.3 Upper Riverside is scheduled for completion in 2020. Prices begin atapproximately £550,000 (HK$6 million). For more details, please contact JLL at irp.hk@ap.jll.com or refer to greenwichpeninsula.co.uk.  

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