Jenny Naylor has a luxury problem, if you will. She wants to sell 85 new apartments, but she doesn’t know how much to charge for them. She doesn’t have to do that either, as anyone interested in an apartment or penthouse with her can submit a bid like an auction. There are no limits to the prices, one thing is for sure: they start at 5.8million pounds, which is the equivalent of around 6.8million euros. For this you get a comfortable 280 square meter apartment with two bedrooms and a spacious living room in Naylor.
She is in a good mood that there will be more than enough buyers.
Naylor is Head of Marketing at Westminster Development Services, she markets what is currently probably London’s most luxurious real estate project: the OWO. The three letters are the abbreviation for what was once home here in the center of the British capital: the Old War Office. There, in the former Ministry of War, not only apartments are being built, but also a hotel of the luxury Raffles chain with no less than nine restaurants.
Everything should be ready in 2022. If you wish, you can reserve a room with a faithful replica of the desk where Winston Churchill sat in the early 1920s. He was then Secretary of State for War, today he acts. as a promotional agent for luxury apartments. For example, there is a photo of him hanging in the marketing suite where Jenny Naylor receives interested parties. She says: “Anyone who buys here owns a piece of British history.”
Open detailed view
The best address and a piece of Empire: the Old War Office in London.
(Photo: Imperial War Museum)
The real estate project with the legendary address 57 Whitehall is an important test for the London real estate market: how will prices evolve after Brexit and what influence will the pandemic have? For investors, this is the key question. So far, there are few signs that the luxury boom may be over. On the contrary. Real estate developer Nick Candy recently launched his penthouse at 1 Hyde Park. Purchase price: 175 million pounds, equivalent to nearly 205 million euros.
It is quite possible that the prices for apartments on the top floor of the OWO are at a similar level. But right now, Marketing Director Naylor is faced with a completely different question: How do you sell apartments that hardly anyone can visit? Due to the pandemic, there are still severe entry restrictions into the UK, so very few interested people can come to London without going into quarantine. Naylor offers virtual tours. But she hopes it will be over soon.
What is there: cinema, gym and yoga studio
Then she could finally go up on the roof of the building site with potential buyers and show them this sight that we know from the final scene of the James Bond film “Skyfall”: the rotunda of the old War Office, behind her the Parliament. British and Big Ben. Then you could walk to the Pelicans in St. James’s Park, to Buckingham Palace, all on the doorstep.
Jenny Naylor doesn’t really have much to say about the location. But of course she does, after all, she’s a saleswoman. During a conversation in the marketing suite, she touts all the perks with which she promotes the property. For example, there is a private 16-seat cinema that future residents can use. Or the billiard room, the gym, a yoga studio. Not to mention the hotel swimming pool, in which you can swim as a resident of the OWO.
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Mosaic and stucco: this is how buyers can have an apartment designed.
(Photo: Grain London Ltd)
Basically, says Jenny Naylor, we are not at all obliged to leave the building, which is an advantage in the event of a possible confinement. Anyone who owns an apartment in the OWO can use all of the hotel’s services – provided the pandemic doesn’t force them to close. Despite all the luxury, it’s like this: The uncertainty that Corona brings also affects people who can afford to live here.
The Old War Office has been owned by the Hinduja Group since 2014. The Indian conglomerate paid £ 350million to the UK Ministry of Defense at the time. In euros this corresponds to a little less than 410 million. Construction has been going on for five years. To mark the start of apartment sales in June 2021, The Sunday Times ran an article with Shalini Hinduja, daughter-in-law of Gopichand Hinduja, who runs the multi-billion conglomerate with her brother Srichand. She was born in India, raised in London and also studied there. She told the newspaper that by renovating the Old War Office, her family wanted to give something back to this city “that has given us so much.” It is important that the family leaves a legacy.
“It’s a rebirth”
When asked if such an important building really needed to be turned into another glittering hotel and home for the world’s super-rich, she replied, “It was a building that has not been used. It was closed. life. It’s a rebirth. It remains to be seen to what extent those who are not part of the global money elite can participate as well. Hinduja promises that there will be guided tours of the hotel’s historic suites ten days a year. The company is also building a so-called memorial room so that the history of the building is not forgotten with archival photos provided by the Imperial War Museum.
Construction works are still in progress. Craftsmen work as a team to minimize the risk of Corona infection. The pandemic simply forced Hinduja to shut down the construction site for six weeks during the initial lockdown. Then it started again.
In any case, the interest seems to be great. Marketing Director Naylor has already received nearly 3,000 inquiries. Five apartments have been reserved to date. It works like an auction: if you want to buy, you have to bid. Or as Shalini Hinduja says: “It’s like selling works of art.