East London draws S’pore’s KOP Properties

While the West End has been the traditional haunt of luxury-residential developers in London, soaring property prices have pushed companies such as Singapore-based KOP Properties to look east for more lucrative opportunities.

New development has been creeping along the Thames, towards the City, with large-scale residential and mixed-use projects like the Shard and NEO Bankside, bringing high-end space to an area that many believe has been under-performing for too long.

The latest is 10 Trinity Square, an early 20th-century landmark building alongside the Tower of London. The project, unveiled last month by KOP Properties, involves purchase and renovation costing £400 million (S$810 million). The structure, which now has five storeys, will have seven floors by the time work is completed in mid-2014 and is being designed to feature 37 residential units and a top-end hotel.

The location may be better known to tourists than property investors but it is on the fringe of the City, with easy access to the West End, Docklands and London City Airport.

“We believe the value of this part of London is still unlocked. Prices in the West End have reached an all-time high, yet the City can still be affordable,” said KOP Properties chief executive Leny Suparman.

KOP Properties bought 10 Trinity Square last year from Thomas Enterprises, a United States developer that had permission for a similar mixed-use project but was unable to execute it.

“We looked for the right site for 12 months and believe this is a special building. It’s a good opportunity, with an excellent location, historic significance and potential,” said Ms Suparman.

KOP Properties is already responsible for the Ritz-Carlton Residences and the Hamilton Scotts condominiums in Singapore. The parent company, the KOP Group, also owns Franklyn Hotels and Resorts and has a foothold in London with the Cadogan Hotel but Ms Suparman described 10 Trinity Square as the company’s flagship project.

The building, which opened in 1922, was designed by Edwin Cooper for the Port of London Authority. The structure, in the Beaux Arts-style, has a grand limestone lobby and some of its original fittings, including decorative plasterwork and panelling in oak, walnut and mahogany.

A private members’ lounge is planned for the building’s formal meeting room, where the inaugural reception of the United Nations General Assembly was held in 1946.

The two new floors are being added to accommodate the two- to four-bedroom apartments, which will have courtyard, city or river views. There also will be three penthouses, one of which will take up the three floors of the building’s centrepiece tower. That unit has drawn so much interest that the company says it is considering an auction.

Prices are expected to be around £2,500 psf; the average in the area is now £1,350. Ten apartments already have been reserved, the company says.

The apartments will range from 1,300 to 6,060 sq ft. Their interiors will be created by London designer David Collins, whose previous work included the Ritz-Carlton in Bangkok and the Connaught Hotel in London.

“We want a design that is cosy, yet classy and modern,” said Ms Suparman. “Contemporary British style is very edgy but we also want to highlight the historical influences, as that’s also attractive and important.”

Source : Today – 3 Jun 2011

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