White City, a former industrial and broadcasting hub, is in the midst of a regeneration that’s turning it into a hotbed of new housing and development.
Bordered by Notting Hill to the east and Shepherd’s Bush to the south, and located in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the area’s main attraction for over 50 years had been the BBC’s Television Centre, a sprawling spherical building that served as the broadcaster’s headquarters.
“Historically it was kind of an industrial wasteland,” said Nina Coulter, director of London residential development at Savills. “The television center had a big presence, but across the road it was just nasty industrial buildings that had been forgotten.”
With good transport links—the Central, Hammersmith and City, and Circle tube lines all serve the area—and its close proximity to other established and popular West London neighborhoods, “it was almost a waste of land,” Ms. Coulter said.
But the scale of the available developable land, plus its close proximity to central London, made it a prime spot for rejuvenation, Ms. Coulter said.
Developers Westfield, Stanmore and Berkeley St. James, and Imperial College London are the four main landowners at work in White City, and their regeneration plans have included thousands of new homes, the expanding of the Westfield shopping center, a new £2 billion (US$2.67 billion) Imperial College campus and a business district named White City Place.
All the new developments led Christie’s International Real Estate to pick the area as one of 15 neighborhoods described as “luxury gems on the rise” in its “Luxury Defined” report released earlier this month.
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The BBC moved out of its building in 2013, and the year before the move, the Grade II-listed building was snapped up by Stanmore.
Phase one of its plan to transform the building is almost complete, and the doughnut-shaped building now serves as the informal epicenter of the area’s redevelopment.
It’s “because it’s so iconic,” Ms. Coulter said. “It has this heritage to it. It’s kind of in British people’s hearts, and anything with that heritage or culture, people warm to that.”
Phase one of the project is delivering 432 residential units and almost 400,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. Prices start from £725,000 (US$969,659) for a one-bedroom unit; £960,000 (US$1.28 million) for a two-bedroom; £1.625 million (US$2.17 million) for a three- bedroom; and £6.25 million (US$8.35 million) for one of the Television Centre’s three penthouses. Residents began moving in last December.
The units have received interest from BBC celebrities and employees that used to work in the building, according to Ms. Coulter.
The homes are joined in the building by members-club Soho House and its rooftop pool and 45-room hotel, an independent cinema, plus restaurants and bars like Chelsea favorite Bluebird, upscale grocer Bayley & Sage and London pizza place Homeslice. Plus, three historic BBC studios—with fresh facilities—are set to start operating once again. (The broadcaster’s headquarters are now at Broadcasting House in Marylebone).
Across the street from the Television Center is White City Living, a 10-acre site developed by Berkeley St. James, is set to deliver over 1,400 new homes including suites, penthouses and duplexes with amenities like a concierge service, two cinema rooms, an entertainment suite, a spa, and a swimming pool. Sales for the first 118 units reportedly launched last year.
White City’s new homes are attracting people who have worked in the area previously, locals, young professionals, as well as downsizers who have moved out of the city but want to keep a pied-à-terre, according to Tom Dailey residential development consultancy partner at Knight Frank.
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‘Cool, Creative Media Types’ Come to White City from the West End
Earlier this month it was announced that Publicis Media would be moving its six media agency brands and more than 2,000 staff, into the Television Center and occupying over 200,000 square feet across seven floors.
Their willingness to bring “cool, creative media types” to White City from central London is a real vote of confidence, Mr. Dailey said.
“They’re used to working in the West End, so to move them out to White City—you have to make them comfortable. They need to be able grab a sandwich at lunch, go to the gym and get a drink after work,” Mr. Dailey said.
The media arm of the advertising and public relations company is joined in White City by the likes of online retail giant Net-a-Porter, along with toy-maker Jellycat and Cutting Edge Group, a Beverly Hills-based company specializing in music for film.
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One of the first residents of the emerging neighborhood was Westfield, who opened their £1.6 billion (US$2.13 billion) shopping center in 2008. As of this year—after further investment and expansion—it’s the largest shopping center in Europe.
“That was the catalyst,” Mr. Dailey said, “in terms of putting White City on the map.”
In addition to all the commercial ventures, ultimately, White City will be home to approximately 6,000 homes, according to documents from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
“There’s a good mix,” Ms. Coulter said. “You can’t redevelop an area so close to central London without everything.”
Prior to White City’s redevelopment, the majority of London’s new development was found firmly in the east rather than the west, in areas like Shoreditch that quickly became the place for trendy creative types as they flocked to its then-cheaper housing. Then, 2012’s summer Olympics ushered in a new era for Stratford, also in the east of the city.
But anchored by Soho House and its smaller, independent restaurants, rather than big chains, White City has created a new “fashionable, cool hub in west London,” Mr. Dailey said.
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