May marks a year since the first residents moved into the defunct Battersea Power Station in London, one of the United Kingdom’s largest redevelopment projects.
Among them was UAE resident Ahmad Ali Al Zaabi, who bought a two-bedroom apartment in Circus West Village, the first phase of the mammoth development, which incorporates residential, retail and leisure zones. A holiday home for him, the apartment serves as a base for his son, who's at university in the city.
“I wanted a place in London because I visit the city often, and also for my son to stay. I bought this one because the location is so good; it’s right on the Thames and only a short walk from Sloane Square, with Battersea Park virtually on the doorstep,” Al Zaabi says. “I was also attracted to the investment potential, given that it’s part of such a large regeneration project.”
At its peak, the coal-fired power station, decommissioned in 1983, generated 20 per cent of London's electricity supply. Instantly identifiable by its four-chimney layout – which appeared on Pink Floyd's Animals album cover – the South-West London property is a Grade II-listed landmark. It fell into disrepair at the start of the millennium, prompting a number of redevelopment plans. The project got off to a few false starts when its various Chinese, Irish and British investors backed out owing to the huge financial thrust required, before a consortium of Malaysian investors saved the day with a £1.6 billion (Dh8.26bn) investment in the 42-acre site, one of the largest property deals in the UK.
It seems to have paid off, with hundreds of residential units already sold, including all the apartments in Circus West Village. Besides opening up thousands of jobs, experts predict it will contribute £20bn to the economy. "I fully expect the property to go up in value, given its prime location and the significant improvements being made to transform this part of London," Al Zaabi says. "A new tube station is being built, for example, and the river bus recently launched. So connectivity has greatly improved."
Al Zaabi’s is one of 865 apartments across eight blocks that are part of the first phase, along with 25,000 square feet of office space, which is now complete. The elegant and contemporary residences were designed by British interior decorator Johnson Naylor, who’s used lots of glass, light woods and parquet flooring throughout. “It’s a great space. The home has a large winter garden, which provides usable space year round and offers fantastic views,” Al Zaabi says.
“It’s been great so far. I am enjoying the benefits of the Power Club that owners automatically become members of, such as the app that allows me to manage my property when I am away, as well as keep up to date with the latest news and openings. I also like the amenities provided, such as the 24-hour concierge who make reservations and travel arrangements for me, the spa and the residents’ club.”
The Riverhouse residents' lounge was designed by British furniture maker David Linley. Viscount Linley may be Queen Elizabeth's nephew and 18th in line to the British throne, but, royal connections aside, he's a craftsman at heart.
"Good design is probably something that has been thoroughly thought through to a point of resolution," Linley told The National. Accordingly, his passion for informal woodwork and high-end bespoke interiors comes through, respectively, in Riverhouse and the penthouses he designed for Circus West Village, some of which are still available. Resale homes are also available here starting from £500,000.
Also on the market are apartments from phase two of the project, titled simply The Power Station. It's due for completion in 2020, a year before Apple moves its UK headquarters to the six floors it has already leased in the central boiler house. Another mixed-use destination, the space will have offices, shops, restaurants and 253 apartments, starting from £2.75 million (Dh14.2m). More residences are available in Battersea's two-part third phase, which will be completed by 2025. Prospect Place will have 690 apartments across five buildings. The only homes to be designed by the prolific American-Canadian architect Frank Gehry in the UK, each comes with a winter garden or terrace, while owners can also access the 6,000-square-foot social arena, with gardens, private-dining rooms, a screening room and a yoga studio.
Two-bedroom apartments here are listed at £1.33 million. Battersea Roof Gardens, meanwhile, will offer 229 apartments in two high-spec finishes, inspired by either the horizontal tiling design of the station's Turbine Hall or the warm gold tones and framing detail of Control Room A.
A three-bed here goes for £2 million. In addition to picnic areas with barbecue pits and a residents' lounge, the building will include London's largest rooftop garden, which takes over the entire top floor and was designed by the team behind the New York High Line.
“Battersea Power Station is a great and safe place for a family. There are lots of activities and events for children, and some of the best schools and universities within a short distance. It is also ideally located for shopping,” says Al Zaabi. An estimated 250 shops and restaurants will be part of the completed project, with retail leasing director Sam Cotton saying he’s constantly on the lookout for established and start-up brands that will contribute to the diversity of the development.
Joining the CoffeeWorks Project, Japanese Tonkotsu and seafood experts Wright Brothers already in business, for instance, will be chef Vivek Singh’s Indian restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen opening next month at Circus West Village, while a handful of Japanese and South Korean beauty brands are also expected to come on board to join Moyses Stevens, the country’s oldest florists, and a Paul Edmonds hair salon.
"The transformation of the Power Station will make Battersea a major new hub for London, so this will become one of the most sought-after destinations," Al Zaabi says. "I haven't decided what I will do in the future, but I am confident it will prove to be a good investment whenever I choose to sell."