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Big article from Propertyweek- Thankfully the Regents Palace Hotel will be saved.

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Jewels of the crown

22.06.07

The Crown Estate hopes it will be second-time lucky with its new £750m redevelopment plans for Regent Street.

By Mark Jansen

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Last week the Crown Estate submitted a planning application to redevelop more than 1m sq ft of shops and offices at the lower end of Regent Street, in the heart of London’s West End.

Regent Street is one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world, and half of its visitors come from overseas or from other parts of the UK. Yet for all its pulling power, the bottom end of the street near Piccadilly Circus looks distinctly shabby. The Crown Estate, which is the freeholder for the entire street, aims to change all that with a dramatic redevelopment of the Regent Palace Hotel, the Café Royal and the Quadrant Arcade. A new service yard will clear lorries from the narrow streets behind Regent Street, which will be given new facings, and adjoining Glasshouse Street will be pedestrianised.

The Crown hopes to win planning permission next year and complete the work by early 2011.

David Shaw, head of the Crown’s retail portfolio, says: ‘This project will completely transform the southern end of the street, where pedestrian flows are weaker and the environment is poorer than further up. It will also be the largest improvement to the public realm in the West End since Trafalgar Square [was pedestrianised in 2003].’

Just William

The Crown Estate can trace its origins back to William the Conqueror, although these days its surplus revenues go to the Treasury. Its total portfolio includes urban, rural and marine property, and was valued at just less than £6bn in September’s interim results.

The whole of Regent Street was valued at £1.4bn at April 2006, when rental income reached almost £50m. When completed, the scheme at the southern end is expected to be worth a colossal £750m.

Shaw explains that the grade II-listed street was rebuilt in the early 20th century and long head leases of 80 to 120 years were granted.

In the dying years of the head leases, the street began looking tired, as the lease holders had little incentive to refurbish the property while the freeholder, the Crown, was powerless to intervene.

The Crown is now in complete control of the street and has already completed or begun 10 separate refurbishment and renewal projects along its length. The three latest redevelopments, known collectively as the quadrant, will be the grandest of all.

This is the Crown’s second attempt to redevelop the quadrant. It first applied for planning permission in December 2003, but withdrew after the Regent Palace Hotel was listed in May 2004 and Westminster councillors voted against its plans for the hotel site eight weeks later.

If Shaw felt frustrated by the listing and the subsequent withdrawal of the first application, he does not let it show.

‘It gave us time to think,’ he says. The original plans have been amended to preserve more of the Regent Palace Hotel, and Shaw says this time there will be no upsets from English Heritage.

‘We’ve been in consultations for some time and we’re comfortable that it is in line with their thinking,’ he says.

The Regent Palace Hotel is to be converted into a mixed-use scheme, comprising 177,000 sq ft of offices on open floorplates as well as 16,000 sq ft of smaller offices, together with 30,000 sq ft of restaurant space, 23,000 sq ft of retail and 11,600 sq ft of residential.

‘More of the original fabric of the building is to be retained, although internal images are not yet available. ‘We’re not at the marketing stage yet,’ explains Shaw.

“We are not about developing a block, letting it and then selling it on to some insurance company


David shaw, The crown estate

The Titanic restaurant is to be moved from the ground floor of the building down into the basement, next to the Atlantic Bar & Grill. Both will remain open. The relocation of the Titanic downstairs enables the Crown to create an 11,000 sq ft yard nearby that will service the block through an underground passage, thereby taking delivery lorries out of Sherwood Street and Glasshouse Street, the latter of which will be paved over. A new lane for pedestrians, Glasshouse Walk, will also be opened. Retail outlets will be built along Sherwood Street that will hide the service yard behind. There will also be new retail space along Brewer Street. Shaw will aim to attract unusual or quirky small retailers that help to make Regent Street a shopping destination, by providing fully fitted units on turnover-related rents with rolling break clauses.

Shaw says the site’s office space will compete with developments in Victoria, Paddington and Kings Cross for corporate occupiers.

‘The market outlook is pretty good. Demand may not remain as high as it is at the moment, but all the fundamentals support big floorplate lettings,’ he says.

The hotel itself has been closed since the end of last year, after the operator, Travelodge, decided the building was no longer viable as a hotel. ‘They paid us a seven-figure sum to get out of their liabilities,’ says Shaw.

Operatic equation

The Crown has brought in architect Dixon Jones, famous for its work on Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House, to work on the Regent Palace Hotel site. It replaces Allies & Morrison, which worked on the original planning application that was withdrawn and is still the architect for the rest of the quadrant projects.

These include the Café Royal, which is to be redeveloped into a 220,000 sq ft luxury hotel. Founded in 1865 by Parisian wine merchant Daniel Thevenon, the Café Royal used to be one of London’s more prestigious venues, but it has declined into what Shaw dismisses as ‘the sort of place that junior accountants can do £100-a-day courses’.

The Crown aims to strike a prelet deal with a luxury hotel group that will take a head lease on the space and develop it to the Crown’s specifications. It wants about 60% of the existing internal space to be conserved, while the rest will be rebuilt. Some 20,000 sq ft of shops will be added to the ground floor and basement.

‘We are going to the market to find the finest luxury hotel operator that we can, someone who has the imagination to understand how they can use this magnificent space,’ says Shaw. He adds that for this reason the operator is unlikely to be ‘a mass-market hotel brand’. ‘We have had a great deal of interest so far,’ he says.

There will be a new entrance on Air Street, to complement the Regent Street entrance while offering better access for cars. It will be built in space currently occupied by the Cheers bar.

The third part of the jigsaw is known as the Quadrant Arcade block, which will be redeveloped to contain 110,000 sq ft of offices, built above 48,000 sq ft of retail in the basement, ground and first floors. The shops in the existing Quadrant Arcade are ‘not very exciting’, Shaw says, but this is set to change. The Crown bought out the head lease 18 months ago. As with parts of the Regent Palace Hotel site, it wants to attract ‘small retailers with an interesting product’ by offering three-year leases with fixed rents and service charges.

Shaw stresses that the Crown needs to be extremely picky about the retailers it allows onto Regent Street. High street chains have been turned away, even when they have offered to pay higher rents than other bidders.

‘We have to offer something that is very exciting, so that people will want to come,’ he says. This month, the Crown announced a letting to the first store in the world to be opened by the National Geographic media company (news, 08.06.07).

Shaw emphasises that the Crown has spent five years thinking about this redevelopment. ‘We have been in existence since 1066 and this is a long haul for us,’ says Shaw. ‘We are not about developing a block, letting it and then selling it on to some insurance company.

‘Our approach is completely different. We need to think about high-quality income streams. A lot of people come to London for their shopping trip and we’re always thinking in terms of what will bring more people to the street.’







 

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^^ Interesting - the plans seem pretty decent, i like the idea that they want high quality shops and hotel etc, and have even turned away the high street stores who were willing to pay more. And i think the pedestrianised bit with glass roof looks quite good.

They could have saved themselves a lot of hassle by producing plans like this the first time round, instead of trying to get the hotel demolished.
 

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The area desperately needs something like this, it is horribly fractured and congested at the moment and very tatty. Mainly because of the road system. This area links up some great sections of the West End but you wouldnt know it and therefore it is terribly underused creating stressful unpleasant bottle necks around the woefully inadequate piccadilly circus.
 

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"Shaw explains that the grade II-listed street was rebuilt in the early 20th century and long head leases of 80 to 120 years were granted.

In the dying years of the head leases, the street began looking tired, as the lease holders had little incentive to refurbish the property while the freeholder, the Crown, was powerless to intervene.

The Crown is now in complete control of the street and has already completed or begun 10 separate refurbishment and renewal projects along its length. The three latest redevelopments, known collectively as the quadrant, will be the grandest of all"

Interesting. Until 5 years ago you could actually sense this, it was all very depressing. Now they just need to sort out the motorway that runs through it, Piccadilly and Oxford Street and this easily walkable quadrant formed by Bond Street would surely top any retail destination in the World.
 

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Sounds very interesting indeed and Im glad the hotel is staying...Now please pedestrianize Oxford Street.
Yes I like it too.
from the renders it looks like they are demolishing it, and just keeping the corners of the building. as the text says, glasshouse street buildings will get "a new facing" ie facades demolished, while only "more" of the Regent's Hotel will be saved. hope the plan falls flat on its face.
 

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from the renders it looks like they are demolishing it, and just keeping the corners of the building. as the text says, glasshouse street buildings will get "a new facing" ie facades demolished, while only "more" of the Regent's Hotel will be saved. hope the plan falls flat on its face.
I tend to agree. I am highly suspicious of this plan. It's so important that the character of these buildings are retained. There is no neon on that render either -....looks like a bland makeover to me
 

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It's certainly an improvement on the previous proposal. The most important parts of the building will be retained. However in my opinion the building's exterior should be retained in its entirety.
 

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This should only go ahead if the entire present facades from pavement to roof are kept the same. Set backs could be permittable but only if they were not visible from the street. The pedestrianisation looks very encouraging however.

The Regent Street crescent is one of the finest examples of Regency architecture in the UK and must be kept in pristine condition. You could not imagine the terraces in Clifton and Bath Crescent being 'uplifted' with 2 floors bolted on could you? It should be the same with Regent Street.

In this area of London the Crown Estate has a licence to make money. Let us hope that Mammon doesn't end up destroying one of London's finest architectural set pieces.
 

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Manc manqué
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This should only go ahead if the entire present facades from pavement to roof are kept the same. Set backs could be permittable but only if they were not visible from the street. The pedestrianisation looks very encouraging however.

The Regent Street crescent is one of the finest examples of Regency architecture in the UK and must be kept in pristine condition. You could not imagine the terraces in Clifton and Bath Crescent being 'uplifted' with 2 floors bolted on could you? It should be the same with Regent Street.

In this area of London the Crown Estate has a licence to make money. Let us hope that Mammon doesn't end up destroying one of London's finest architectural set pieces.
But I thought little if any of Regency Regent Street, as designed by Nash, actually survived. I thought most/all of it was rebuilt between 1900 and 1930
 

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But I thought little if any of Regency Regent Street, as designed by Nash, actually survived. I thought most/all of it was rebuilt between 1900 and 1930
yes the only bit that is regency is the actual route to regents park! I find the 20th Century buildings a lot of the time along this street a bit too sombre and heavy, lacking detailing, Regents street desperately needs some decent evening facade lighting. You`ll find that as with most buildings from this period the backs and sides are pretty hideous and a waste of good urban space.
 

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The current Regent Street is probably grander and more imposing than Nash's original. I liked the old Regent Street's collonades though.
 

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i probably agree with Monkey, though i feel the curving part of Regent Street has big flaws and comes across as overbearing and dismal. perhaps because the detailing and structure is less obvious, there's more sheer blank wall and longer footprints whereas the buildings around oxford circus have more structural articulation and detailing as well as smaller building sizes.

for instance here:



You have those three middle storeys where there is almost zero detailing, it has an out of place domestic feel to it. and as it is one single building curving all the way round (sort of) there's unsuccessful attempts to break the uniformity. one area has pillars and it looks more stately and befitting of Regent Street, but the columns and detail is heavy and overbearing, you can't see the windows and there's an overall grotty feeling.

Whereas here:



There's an actual break between buildings, you can establish the length of streets and feel the continuity of the surrounding environment feeding into the street and giving it life. the vista is not terminated by its own curve but instead continues with the promise of distance. the windows are a lot more prominent as the detailing always emphasises their shape in a handsome yet restrained manner, the ground floor spaces are less cluttered, the materials look light and so on.

as for the Regent's Palace itself, it might looks more amenable if the later roof extension were hacked off, it harms the prominence of the dome and integrity of the building.

 

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Mmmm...

You can't see the glass re-modeling 'square on' from the back of the Cafe Royal.

The original tiled facade really is very nice, okay it is looking a little bit shabby - but to replace with a glass structure especially where you only get a long view up glasshouse street in the renders fills me with suspicion.

It may benefit retailers and shoppers to have the area pedestrianised, but the building and therefore the unique character of the area will be lost, it will become too clinical, too 21st Century.

Not every single area in London needs to be a 24 hour, glossy shopping experience.

:eek:hno:
 

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But the only 24 hour shopping experiences in London are the large suburban supermarkets or a few small shops in ethnic neighbourhoods!!

I totally agree about retaining this facade though. They shouldn't compromise on it at all.
 

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It may benefit retailers and shoppers to have the area pedestrianised, but the building and therefore the unique character of the area will be lost, it will become too clinical, too 21st Century.

Not every single area in London needs to be a 24 hour, glossy shopping experience.

:eek:hno:

Unique character of the place?!?! It is a no-mans land between 2 unique areas! It is a waste because it remains under-utilised when in fact it should be providing an excellent link up. There are no unqiue shops, no unique inhabitants, no unique atmostphere and people are suggesting that a titled facade is the only thing that is unique! Im going to take another visit as i am even dubious of this claim.

This area of london desperately needs to gets its retail act together, it should be 21st Century. 300 years ago foreign visitors marvelled at the clean glazed shop frontages of Piccadilly and the innovative window displays. 2 decades of neglect have taken its toll on this area and it needs invigorating, a shake up.

The whole of Regent Street and probably half of London is a lie of facades. When talking about 20th Regent Street, this lie is extreme, a stone front-facing only facade over a steel frame and brick infill of no architectural merit. We are not going to learn anything from a keeping an interior that is basically the same as what we build today, or are we now really contemplating saving floorplans?!

This scheme is offering a pedestrianisation of a street most people dont use causing congestion elsewhere because they are put off by exploring and the scheme also provides this rather chain dominated area of London with some unique retail outlets all while saving a chunk of the famous hotel!
 

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^^ I can see what you are saying - but to be fair, that first image was taken in 96, the buildings have been cleaned since then and the grotty feeling is no longer present :);)
But the points about lower-regent street are still valid, the facade of the curved building is not particularly successful and is gloomy. The 70s transport department layout of the road does not help at all and neither is the inabilty to light the buildings attractively in the evening.
 
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