We hear of new, catchy names for areas of central London all the time, and few catch on or have any real credibility. But, Toby Courtauld’s New West End, is beginning to ring true.
The chief executive of Great Portland Estates (GPE) placed a bet on the east end of Oxford Street when Crossrail was but a twinkle in the eye of London’s transport bosses. That bet has paid off.
The pre-let from New Look on GPE’s 73-89 Oxford Street proves Courtauld’s theory that the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station opposite the scheme is indeed a big draw to retailers. I hear it won’t be too long until more big retail names are announced on the scheme, with one American fashion outlet tipped to dump plans to occupy a new flagship store just across the street to move in next to New Look in 2017.
But it’s not just retailers Courtauld has bet on. There’s a supply shortage of top office accommodation in the West End, and GPE is set to benefit from that too. There’s plenty of space above New Look’s flagship to let, and it will be let. There’s also GPE’s enormous Rathbone Place scheme just yards away, north of Oxford Street. The 412,000 sq ft mixed-use scheme is still an enormous hole in the ground, but interest in the retail and office offer is already strong, and all but a few penthouses in the 162-unit residential development have been snapped up.
Like Land Securities, Courtauld got into his development pipeline ahead of the curve, and it’s paying him back big time. One of the most affable people at the top of the property tree, he doesn’t do the grandoise gestures some of his more toffee-nosed contempories indulge in. He just cracks on and lets the developments, lettings and financial results do the talking.
And it’s not just the east end of Oxford Street where Courtauld has taken wise decisions. GPE will also begin work on the 207,200 sq ft development at Hanover Square this year. Key to the inevitable success of this office, retail and residential scheme is that it sits around the eastern ticket hall of the Bond Street Crossrail station.
The thing is we all knew Crossrail was coming, but few developers got in to take advantage of it as early as Courtauld. His London-focused GPE knows its market like few other groups, and the success for him and his investors is as certain as anything can be in the property sector.