Silken hotel seeks £110m-plus purse

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Half-finished five-star Aldwych hotel up for sale

Investors have until Thursday to make an offer to buy the freehold of London’s most visible stalled development.

The half-finished Silken Hotel, which stands on less than an acre at the Aldwych, is on the market for at least £110m. More than 500 developers and investors have received brochures for the 313,505 sq ft property (above).

The Spanish hotel Group, Silken, had been lined up to operate the 173-bedroom five-star hotel. But the cranes have been static since June last year above the hotel that has reached its full height, level with Bush House, the BBC’s overseas service headquarters.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was appointed receiver on the land and properties owned by developer Urvasco Ltd at 336-337 Strand.

On 22 October, joint receiver Barry Gilbertson, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, instructed Stephen Richardson, a director of Cushman & Wakefield Hospitality, to sell the site.

Richardson said last week: “We are looking for either persons with a big flow of cash or property companies that have expertise and some leverage plus their own money, so that perhaps they can go into partnership and create an investment.”

Spanish bank BBVA financed the acquisition of the triangular site where Citigroup had been the last occupant, moving into the 1950s English Electric building that partly replaced the Marconi Building that had stood there since 1903.

Silken and Urvasco Ltd called in Foster & Partners because they had been impressed by the architect’s work on the famous black and white-clad Silken in Barcelona, where several famous architects had designed a floor each.

Foster’s rotunda seems to stand sentinel over the hotel, while the listed facade of Marconi House conceals the shells of 79 flats behind.

Richardson insists that little has deteriorated since work stopped, adding the water has settled in pools in the basement, possibly from rain running down the site or ground water rising.

“All the elevations are complete,” he says.

“And the windows are in. The 10th floor is skinned and is acting like a roof. What has not gone on yet is the mansard.”

The developer or investor that buys the Silken site will have to find a hotelier for a lease or a management contract.

What is sad for London is that the new name of Silken will not be over the door.

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