“We are doing more development than we have ever done before,” says Cadogan Estate chief executive Hugh Seaborn.
As far as positive outlooks go in relation to the future of London real estate, this one is up there – and backed up by the financials. The landed estate will spend £500m on construction over the next five years, with £100m of that set to be spent on 65 sites this year alone. Half of that figure will be allotted to three pivotal schemes that make up the bulk of Cadogan’s strategy to shape the future of the estate and reinforce its position as one of London’s most sought-after places to live, work and play.
It will start work in April on a 200,000 sq ft redevelopment of the Curzon cinema and Habitat block at 196-222 King’s Road, SW3, on the western side of its 93-acre holding. This project is due for completion in 2021, and the goal is to re-energise this central section of the King’s Road, with 25,000 sq ft of world-class retail space over three floors, a pub, independent cinema, rooftop bar, 47 new homes (including five affordable to rent), and 24,000 sq ft of office space. It won approval from Kensington & Chelsea in November 2015, after its first attempt was turned down the previous year.
“The aim is to invest in retail further west on the King’s Road, bringing it into balance with the success of Duke of York Square,” says Seaborn.
The scheme will include an anchor store as well as smaller, boutique offerings. The existing Waitrose will be improved and will continue to trade through the development, while Curzon will be reinstated to operate a 600-seat cinema. The historic facade of the original art deco Gaumont Theatre building, opposite Chelsea Town Hall, will be restored.
“We committed to starting our biggest development scheme [since Duke of York Square] despite the Brexit vote,” says Seaborn. “I can see reasons to be cautious about retail: the high street is being challenged, but we are very positive.”
Meanwhile, work is under way on two hotels set to open their doors this year and next – part of the estate strategy agreed five years ago to improve the quality of its hotel offer. First will be the Cadogan Hotel on Sloane Street, SW1 – the location of Oscar Wilde’s arrest.
The hotel is undergoing a full renovation and restoration and will relaunch at the end of this year as the London flagship of luxury hotelier Belmond.
The following year will see One Sloane Gardens opened by Jean-Louis Costes, the founder of one of Paris’s most glamorous hotels.
“We are deep into hotels at the moment,” says Seaborn. “Investing in this sector allows us to manage the quality and curate their positioning, ensuring that they complement the neighbourhood’s fabric – and bring a great food and drink offer for both the local community and visitors to the area.”
The estate agrees management contracts with operators, rather than letting its hotel properties. “It allows us to create a culture and gives us control,” says Seaborn. “Hotels can have a massive impact [on your experience of an area], even if you’re not staying in them.”
The renovation of the Cadogan Hotel as a five-star boutique property with 54 bedrooms has also allowed Cadogan to add a new restaurant to the offer by redeveloping a corner retail unit that was once home to Thomas Pink. EG can reveal that it will be operated by Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings as the Sloane Street Deli. The restaurant, with views of Cadogan Place Gardens, will open later this year.
At One Sloane Gardens, a retail and residential block designed by Edwin Thomas Hall, the creative force behind London’s iconic Liberty department store, is being converted into a 40-key hotel.
The new hotel, set to open in late 2019, will have a rooftop restaurant overlooking Sloane Square. It will be the first Costes project outside Paris, where it has its flagship Hotel Costes and Costes Le Restaurant on Rue Saint Honoré and restaurants including L’Avenue on Avenue Montaigne.
Seaborn says Cadogan is looking to emulate the effect the Chiltern Firehouse hotel and restaurant has had, helping to reinvent sedate Marylebone, W1, as a cool destination when it opened in 2014.
He has more insight than most into just how transformative that project has been: it was a partnership between his former employer, Portman Estate, where he was chief executive until 2008, US hotelier André Balazs and residential developer Manhattan Loft Corporation. Seaborn left Portman just a few months before Westminster City Council first gave the go-ahead for the former Manchester Square fire station to be converted into a hotel.
Cadogan is also strengthening its hotel offer elsewhere. Later this year, the team behind luxury hotels Chewton Glen in Hampshire and Cliveden House in Berkshire will open a new restaurant at the estate’s opulent town house hotel 11 Cadogan Gardens, SW1.
Andrew Stembridge, executive director of Iconic Luxury Hotels group, and his senior team added the 56-bedroom hotel to their stable after it underwent a year-long renovation project in 2016.
The enlarged restaurant will have a new entrance directly onto Pavilion Road, which is already fast becoming a foodie favourite as it undergoes a reinvention of its own.
Here, following a consultation with the local community, Cadogan has created a destination for independent, artisan traders on a pedestrian-only cobbled mews behind the new George House office and retail development on Sloane Street.
Established fashion and beauty boutiques now rub shoulders with new artisan food shops including a butcher, baker, wine merchant, cheesemonger and greengrocer, as well as a state-of-the-art KXU Gym. The aim is to create a new “village heart” in this sought-after neighbourhood. Timeout has described the effect as “faintly magical”.
Several of the independents have come straight from market stalls. “It’s more work,” Seaborn acknowledges. “We have a responsibility to make sure they are viable and succeed. We sit down and talk through viability.
“We did this rather than build six town houses at great profit,” Seaborn adds with a smile. Thankfully, Edward, Viscount Chelsea, who took over as chairman from his father, Lord Cadogan, in 2012, is “hugely enthusiastic” about the project.
The next phase of development, due for completion in the spring, involves the conversion of a further six Victorian stable blocks (previously used as garages) into stores. Cadogan is in discussion with four new independents for these, including a fishmonger.
The first phase includes Aussie restaurateur Bill Granger’s all-day café, Granger & Co, where Seaborn says “the queues are out the door in the evenings”. Vegan haven Wulf & Lamb is also up and running. “We are deliberately bringing in different types of restaurant,” says Seaborn. “We want a wide variety.”
Back at Duke of York Square, where Seaborn and a 50-strong team are based, there will be another new restaurant opening in the autumn. It will occupy an award-winning building by NEX Architecture. The coiled design, selected in an architectural competition, has retractable glass walls for fine weather and a roof terrace, which will be open to the public. The site was previously an “apologetic building” occupied by a panini shop, says Seaborn.
“Duke of York Square has come of age. Therefore we were able to be more ambitious about this site.” An operator has yet to be announced.
With so much activity across the estate, it is perhaps unsurprising that Seaborn perceives Cadogan to be “underestimated as a developer”. The projects taking shape now and over the next five years will surely change many people’s minds.
- Cadogan has recently achieved more than £530 per sq ft zone A on King’s Road; and £1,200 per sq ft zone A on Sloane Street. It cannot disclose the retailers’ names.
- Hermes took 5,597 sq ft, moving a few metres down the street to upgrade from its previous 3,400 sq ft shop (a 65% increase). The new store opened in March 2017 and was credited in its latest results for helping it towards a 9% jump in sales.
- Fendi also moved on the street to open a larger store last year, while Versace opened its first “eco” store.
- A new restaurant from Caprice Holdings opened on Basil Street (off Sloane Street) at the end of 2017 as Harry’s Dolce Vita.
- Men’s clothing store Corneliani opened in January, French cashmere brand Leetha is opening shortly and British womenswear brand The Fold opens in March.
Duke of York Square
- Aesop took 1,163 sq ft to open its largest European store at Duke of York Square in December.
- Online fashion brand Boden took 4,300 sq ft at Duke of York Square for its first-ever physical store, which opened in November.
- Nars and Dermalogica also opened stores last year
- Menswear brand Slowear has just opened its new 1,800 sq ft store on the King’s Road this week.
- Twinset will open its first UK store this summer.
Sloane Street public realm
Inspired by leafy Avenue Montaigne in Paris, Cadogan Estate has drawn up £40m plans to turn Sloane Street into a green boulevard. The plans, which won strong backing in a public consultation, include widening the pavement. The estate expects to invest the lion’s share of the cost and is in negotiation with TfL for a contribution. “We want to bring the gardens out onto the street,” says Seaborn.
Nash Bond are retail leasing agent on The Cadogan Estate