The famous art-deco former headquarters for London Transport, 55 Broadway has been sold on a long leasehold agreement. The newly formed Integrity International Group, backed by property and hotel developer, Tony Matharu, has taken a 150 year lease on the building from TfL.

Matharu brothers, as a family own the majority of Grange Hotels, although following a long family argument, they sold the four largest of the 13 hotels earlier this year for nearly £1 billion.

Tony Matharu has now set up a new company to invest again in property, with 55 Broadway his first purchase.

55 Broadway was built in 1929 and was London’s first skyscraper, and noted for its cruciform design to let light into the office space, and for Jacob Epstein’s controversial sculptures on the outside.

The height, the tallest skyscraper in London was itself also an issue.

At the presentation ceremony of an architecture award for the building in 1931, the legendary Frank Pick, commented on the height, noting that “in fact, it goes so high that it has a 9th floor, which we cannot use because the London County Council has decided that it is unsafe for us to live there . But our architects insisted there should be a 9th floor, because the proportions of the building required it, and we were complacent clients, so it was built .”

Architects today sigh wistfully at the thought of so complacent a client.

TfL has been looking to vacate the building for some years and the sale comes after TfL’s agent, Knight Frank put the property on the market as an entire unit in May 2019 for a reported £110 million. The transaction also includes the later built annexes at 100 Petty France and Wing Over Station.

Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at TfL said that the opportunity for a long single leasehold was offered through the open market to deliver best value for money.

The leasehold sale includes the ground floor retail units, but not the ticket hall and other operational property. There will be no material impact upon the operation of London Underground at St James’s Park Station. TfL wont move its remaining office staff out for up to a year, although works separating the operational elements from the office areas has already started.

Back in 2015, Westminster Council approved plans to convert the building into flats, but the sale was regularly delayed and the application expired in 2018. It’s not been officially revealed yet whether the new owner is looking at turning it into flats, or a hotel. It is a listed building and heavily protected from a heritage perspective, so don’t expect radical changes to this art-deco icon of London.

The sale of the long lease is part of TfL’s aim to cut its accommodation costs by £110 million by 2022.

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