Property

Property pas de deux

Battersea has taken a battering over the years. At one time a no-fly zone for anyone wanting to hold on to their wallet, regeneration of the venerable swath of south bank started around 2012 and seemed set to be the next King’s Cross. However, (alleged) oversupply and low commercial interest stalled progress, at least until recently. There is, however, another side to the district, one that newly established developer Avanton sees a bright future in.

Due South

Debuting boutique developer Avanton is wading into Battersea’s sub-market with its inaugural project, Coda Residences.
Part of what is officially Avanton: Battersea, the building’s ground floor will soon serve as the new home of the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance, doubling the schools current size at Battersea Square. The chatter about how Battersea’s ambitious Nine Elms/Power Station development isn’t quite going to plan, and that buyers are losing interest seems to have subsided considering the US Embassy moving into Nine Elms in January and Apple announcing it would set up shop in the revitalised Power Station by 2021. That RAD has opted to remain in Battersea is another vote of confidence that vindicates Avanton Managing Partner Omer Weinberger. Unbothered by being outside London’s sweet spots, Weinberger expects that to be Avanton’s brand: liveable locations for real life.

“We are aiming to be the best scheme, with the best value for money, with a growth story in the micro-locations we’re working in,” he begins. “We want people to go to our website and say, ‘What have they got next?’ We’re not land bankers. We’re quite young. We buy a site and we want to get on with it. We’re providing much more than the low threshold of 35% affordable housing, partly because we’re giving the Royal Academy a massive sponsorship. A lot of those apartments will be for key workers — firefighters, teachers. That’s what brings communities together.”

“I think that affordable housing is an important element of any development,” echoes Kathryn McCombe, Avanton’s sales and marketing director. “The value of diversity is intangible, and experience is starting to become more crucial to where we live.”

Located in an emerging spot between Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Town, Coda connects swiftly and conveniently to Waterloo, Victoria, Canary Wharf, Oxford Circus, Croydon and Gatwick Airport in less than 30 minutes by train or the tube, as it nestles amid some of London’s best kept secrets: Northcote Road, Old York Road, St John’s Hill and Battersea Square itself. RAD and its cosmopolitan student body will bring new life to York Road as well as provide a strong investment argument. “In terms of positioning ourselves regarding international sales, we are aligned with the Royal Academy of Dance,” reminds McCombe. “About 50% of the academy’s students are international, and there’s a link here [in Hong Kong] and in Shanghai.”

Battersea’s so-called problem is simply pushing too far too fast. “Oversupply is concentrated east of the park — near the power station and Nine Elms. They’ve made some good sales and they thought they could keep the momentum going and increase the pricing,” theorises Weinberger. “Then it became unaffordable. Elsewhere it’s more down to earth and there’s not much supply, definitely not of good new homes.” Avanton plans on cleaving closely to its affordable mandate, and combined with a new town centre, parks and infrastructure as parts of the area’s planned regeneration, Weinberger is confident more and more homeowners will be drawn to Battersea. “[Coda’s] a good product. If you look at the little things, say the residents’ lounge, it’s fun. It’s got great views, you’re in central London without the crowds. If you compare Battersea Park with Hyde or Regent’s, I think it’s the nicest one. It’s never too busy and it’s got a strong sense of community.”

The Last Word

Coda’s 130 suites (studios) to three-bedroom flats, with the bulk being two-bedroom apartments ranging from 710 to 1,000 square feet, come in almost as many configurations (38), largely due to RAD’s demands. Design is “Especially challenging when you can’t have any columns going down into the dance studios,” notes Weinberger. “Their centenary is in 2020, and they’ve said they hope to be here for the next 100 years, in this building.”

The facilities and amenities — or perhaps lack of them — at Coda is significant. As part of Avanton’s drive to offer affordable quality, the developer put a great deal of work into breaking down urban lifestyle patterns. To that end, features include 24-hour concierge services, private gardens, lounge and function room — and studio classes at RAD. There is no sprawling clubhouse, no swimming pool. McCombe points out that the majority of Londoners drop into bigger gyms before or after work, near their offices, and also believes residents are happy to visit the fine dining, art and culture, and leisure amenities scattered across the city. That keeps maintenance fees low. “We’re not creating a lifestyle. We’re building the ideal lifestyle people should have in London,” chimes in Weinberger. “People work long hours, and when you get home it’s time to relax… What we’re doing is creating homes for Londoners.”

Designed by Patel Taylor (the residential master planners behind White City), Avanton: Battersea comprises of three buildings on one podium, with residences in the centre. Coda’s architecture was, not surprisingly, inspired by the movement of dance; its tiers evoking subtle fluidity. Most of the apartments feature balconies and interiors come courtesy of Johnson Naylor (King’s Cross Tapestry, Battersea Power Station). Defined by an emphasis on natural light and ventilation, flats boast floor-to-ceiling windows, natural materials such as oak and stone, contemporary kitchens fitted with Siemens appliances, underfloor heating, and ultra-efficient, flexible layouts. Coda also features photovoltaic roof panels among its sustainable initiatives.

Coda Residences at Avanton: Battersea is scheduled for completion in late 2020 and prices start at £495,000 (HK$5.1 million). For more details refer to www.codalondon.com or forward email enquiries to irp.hk@ap.jll.com.