Camden’s new Standard
Hip American hotelier André Balazs has chosen a council office block in King’s Cross for his next boutique hotel.
André Balazs Properties is partnering with Crosstree Real Estate Partners to convert the 150,000 sq ft Camden town hall annexe, WC1, and open the first Standard Hotel outside the US.
Balazs has entered an exclusivity agreement with Crosstree to open a circa 250-bedroom hotel – its sixth Standard – on the site of the former council offices.
He is looking to repeat the success of his hotel (pictured) in New York’s once seedy Meatpacking District in London’s rapidly changing King’s Cross, which has recently attracted occupiers including Google, Louis Vuitton and restaurant firm D&D London.
Balazs’s empire also includes Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont and his first London outpost, the celebrity-friendly Chiltern Firehouse restaurant and hotel in W1.
Subject to consultation, the hotel would take two years to be readied for opening.
The council has capitalised on booming property demand in King’s Cross, raising more than £100m this year through sales. Last month it exchanged contracts with Crosstree to sell the annexe.
This week Camden selected Mace as preferred bidder to buy a 1.8-acre Travis Perkins-let site on West End Lane, NW6, for around £30m. The Shard's building contractor, Mace, is planning a redevelopment that includes around 150 homes as well as shops.
Daniel Lovatt, development director at Deloitte Real Estate, which advised on the sales, said: “We received an unparalleled level of national and international interest. The level of demand confirms that Camden is one of the capital’s most dynamic and active property markets.”
Elsewhere in the capital, other fringe markets are benefiting from hotel demand.
Union Hanover Securities has secured a site in Waterloo at 137-139 Lower Marsh, SE1, with a plan to develop a 160-bedroom hotel.
The company, which has partnered with Trac Properties, has signed a 30-year lease with Network Rail to develop a hotel using ship containers. Restaurant MEATliquor will lease part of the ground floor.
Union managing director Eric Jafari said: “Fringe locations house a lot of creativity and attract the type of tenants that create an authentic cultural feel, which eventually leads in many cases to reliable property growth.
“More importantly, the London property market in the past six months has continued to skyrocket to what we see as unsustainable levels and, in our opinion, the only places to purchase development sites are in the fringe.”
EG COMMENT: Joanna Bourke, senior reporter
Camden council has long said that the 1974-built town hall annexe faces bulky repair bills to make it usable. The sale is good news for the public purse but, more importantly, it will be fantastic to see an unloved property thrive.
King’s Cross is undergoing a significant regeneration and André Balazs is no stranger to turning once shabby areas into sophisticated locations. He has been dubbed a pioneer for investing in his 18-storey Manhattan hotel in the Meatpacking District when the area was better known for drugs and prostitution than boutiques and tourism. The hotel is now globally famous.
He has also succeeded in converting the old fire station on Chiltern Street, W1 – a traditionally quiet and boutique retail strip in Marylebone – into London’s most fashionable restaurant and hotel.