Dubai: Investors from the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been putting up to 50 million pounds and more on some super-luxury homes at a new project in London from the Hinduja Group, one of the wealthiest business families in the world.
These investors are not just picking up a property but also a slice of vintage history along with it. The ‘OWO Residences’ – which will be managed by Raffles - were designed out of The Old War Office in a legacy rich part of London. Among the grandees to have used The Old War Office includes Winston Churchill, who was Prime Minister during much of World War II.
The 8-year redevelopment undertaken by the Hinduja Group – which owns India’s Ashok Leyland, the maker of buses and trucks, and IndusInd Bank - cost more than 1 billion pounds. That UAE and Gulf investors would form a significant part of the buyer profile when the units went on sale was a given – but it’s the scale of the interest that has taken the developer by some surprise.
We have already closed deals from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and there are possible investors from both continuing to make multiple visits to The OWO,
More than 10 per cent of those who have bought or expressed interest are from the Gulf. Apartment prices start at 4 million pounds and then push on to 50 million pound plus.
“This is an old historical building which is renovated to its pristine condition and contemporary state-of-the-art facilities,” said Sanjay Hinduja, who heads The OWO project and is also Chairman of the group flagship Gulf Oil International. “Each apartment is of different size and non- standardized. This is why the unit prices are varying.”
It was in September that the development was opened up ‘for the first time after 120 years’. This was done by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal and sister of King Charles III.
“We have already closed deals from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and there are possible investors from both continuing to make multiple visits to The OWO,” said Hinduja. “We are on the verge of closing more deals.”
The Hinduja Group bought the property in 2015 from the UK government and took 8 years to restore it. The OWO also has the first Raffles hotel in the UK, which located within the premises. (Europe’s first Raffles branded residences is shaped by the British design studio 1508 London.)
A tough market
The UK’s super-luxury residential market had a relatively tough year, with concerns over the economy, geopolitics, and Britain’s reset in a post-Brexit environment all clamping down on the property market’s prospects. There is also the UK parliamentary elections due next year, and what that could mean for the short-term growth. (Amidst all this, property investors specifically have to be on the sharp lookout for any possible change to taxes and stamp duty rates.)
None of which, it seems, is acting as any deterrent on the OWO’s chances.
“GCC buyers typically buy into a property when it is complete compared to their Asian counterparts who are open to acquire under-construction projects,” said Charlie Walsh. Head of Sales & Marketing, The OWO.
“With the construction complete and the Raffles hotel open and buzzing, we have been receiving a number of GCC visitors to London who want to explore the property before they decide on buying.”
In all, there are 85 residences, split into 1- to 5-bedroom formats. On a per square foot basis, the price works out to a steep 4,000 pounds to 10,000 pounds. And the penthouses range upwards of 12,500 pound per square feet.
But then, it’s about the location – and the history that comes into the calculus.
The 139 Piccadilly mansion overlooking Green Park is up for sale. Now, what makes it of historical import is being the London home of poet Lord Byron and then much later of French banking heiress Baroness Catherine d’Erlanger.
The Grade II Listed property, which provides 14,624 square feet, could be worth around 30 million pounds or more. And hit 70 million pounds refurbished.
“This magnificent period building is one of the few surviving private palaces in Mayfair providing a discerning buyer with the opportunity to regenerate and transform it into a single palatial family home, an Embassy, private member’s club, new offices or a flagship retail boutique,” said Robert Britten, Sales Director at Wetherell.
“Buildings of this scale and importance and in such an ultra-prime Green Park location rarely come up for sale in Mayfair, it is an outstanding opportunity for someone wanting a trophy property in one of London’s finest addresses.”