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June 1, 2010
West End’s Latest Icon Is Selling Fast
Central St Giles is the first residential scheme in the UK by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and it consists of 100 apartments, as well as offices and a selection of restaurants, cafés and delis ranged around a piazza. Not only is the development an architectural landmark, but it is also a sign of the times.
Out of the 100 apartments, 56 are destined for private sale while the rest have already been allocated as affordable housing. During February and March of this year, the developer United House (UH), approached potential investors based in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in an attempt to lure them to the capital. The developer’s hope was to try and sell at least 20 flats; 30 sales would have been a resounding success. However they sold 51, with only five properties remaining available to UK buyers. And all this a year before the private apartments will be completed.
However, the fact that more than half of all £2 million-plus sales in London are now going to overseas investors is a concern that turbulence in the eurozone could have an impact on buyers from continental Europe, who underpin the capital’s prime property market. However, demand from Far Eastern buyers appears to be undiminished.
United House could not have timed their approach any better as it was aligned with Chinese New Year, when bonuses are traditionally paid in the Far East — and the favourable exchange rate certainly helped. But buyers, Crovella, says, “recognised this was an opportunity that doesn’t come up all that often — this is the biggest development in Covent Garden for eight, maybe ten, years”.
Buyers who have already exchanged contracts at Central St Giles have paid between £460,000 and £2.8 million with an annual service charge ranging from £1,500 for a small studio to £12,000 for the penthouse.
The five remaining apartments include the 2,426sq ft penthouse on the eleventh floor which has a wraparound balcony with views across Covent Garden and Soho and is on sale for £5 million. There are also three three-bedroom flats, with 1,600 to 1,700sq ft of living space, for about £2.8 million. The smallest unit — two bedrooms and 1,100 sq ft — is about £1.8 million.