Southern bias for investors
Every major city continues to evolve, and London is no exception. Well-planned and generously funded regeneration projects are now transforming older areas of the capital, reflecting new trends in urban living and bringing numerous opportunities for investment.
Tribeca Square in the Elephant and Castle district of South London is a prime example. At the centre of a far-sighted GBP1.5 billion (HK$18.6 billion) redevelopment scheme, it will combine residential and commercial space, with all the amenities and conveniences expected for 21st century lifestyles.
'A new London is emerging on the south bank of the Thames,' says Tim Wright, director (residential) for Jones Lang LaSalle, which is handling the first pre-sales phase in Hong Kong for the development's stylish apartments. 'We can describe it as part of the ripple effect spreading from the nearby South Bank cultural quarter, which is seen too in other mixed-use projects in neighbouring riverside districts.'
A direct and intended result is the creation of prestige addresses and communities with their own distinct character. Perceptions will quickly change, with the arrival of new businesses and cultural venues acting as a catalyst to drive the local economy and ensure valuations continue to escalate.
'The London borough of Southwark is already becoming a preferred office address and, for prospective homebuyers, Elephant and Castle stands out as an area of opportunity,' Wright says. 'Prices today are still well below London's zone 1 average, but we believe the South Bank is on the way to rivalling other central areas such as Knightsbridge.'
Tribeca Square will feature three high-rise towers. The initial release, though, focuses on the 19-storey south building, which will have close to 100 one- or two-bedroom apartments and 12 three-bedroom penthouses. Completion is due in June 2015.
A key point in the architects' design brief is to maximise the interior sense of space. The planned ceiling height for each apartment is 2.45 metres and all the main rooms will have double-glazed full-height windows. Adding to the feeling of openness and natural light, aluminium sliding doors will lead to private balconies.
There will be oak-finished timber flooring in the hallways, living and dining rooms, with resilient wool mix carpets in each bedroom.
For the kitchens, the headline specification calls for fitted units by Poggenpohl complemented by an integrated range of Siemens and Zanussi appliances. These will include a combi oven, ceramic hob, extractor hood and fridge-freezer. The configuration will feature custom-designed modular cabinets, extensive Plusmodo work surfaces and a stainless steel single bowl sink. A washer-dryer will be installed in a separate utility cupboard.
Underfloor heating will bring a touch of luxury to bathrooms, which will have Minoli tiling on the walls and floor plus a steel enamel bath or shower tray. Master bedrooms will come with large fitted wardrobes, while a whole house ventilation system and panel radiators with individual controls will help to ensure desired indoor temperatures as the seasons change.
'To guarantee security, there will be an external audio-visual entry system linked to each apartment and residents will have a key fob for building entry points,' Wright says. 'Besides that, the development will have 24-hour concierge services, heat and smoke detectors and domestic sprinklers.'
Wright sees every reason to believe the London property market will remain strong with continuing appeal for international investors. Low interest rates, favourable currency conditions and an uncomplicated buying process add to the general attractions.
'Data shows that home prices in London's regeneration zones have an annualised growth rate of 4.9 per cent over the period of redevelopment,' he says. 'And, of course, brand-new residential properties with easy transport links have very good rental potential.'
Allowing for some market variability, Wright estimates the rental return for a one-bedroom apartment at Tribeca Square at GBP355 to GBP425 per week. A two-bedroom unit might be let out for up to GBP535 a week, while a three-bedroom penthouse could bring in from GBP720 to GBP950 per week.
'Standing at Elephant and Castle today, if you close your eyes and project forward four or so years, it is possible to imagine how the plan will take shape,' Wright says. 'You can see the bustling market square and fashionable shops alongside the new housing and office towers.'