Nestlé Tower, SEGAS House and St George’s Walk in Croydon town centre have been sold to a Chinese development company in a £60million deal.
Property Week is reporting that R&F Properties has made the move, its first venture into European real estate.
Minerva, who bought the tower for £10million in 2015 from L&G, stand to make a handsome profit on the transfer of the 200,000 sq ft tower, the 250,000 sq ft St George’s Walk and nearby SEGAS House, which has listed building status.
St George’s House, the formal name for the Nestlé Tower, was built in 1964 and was the UK head office for the Swiss food corporation until they quit Croydon five years ago. It has been vacant since, though it does have planning permission for conversion from office use to residential.
And it is in the planning permission that the Chinese company will hope to find its value from the deal, as they have acquired properties with permission for more than 1,000 units: 288 in the former Nestlé offices and around 800 units at St George’s Walk.
That all adds up to an estimated development value of £500million, according to Property Week.
The location has been something of a blight on the town centre for more than a decade, with previous development schemes, including the building of a John Lewis store, having all failed.
The pub and night club at the foot of the tower, which became the Blue Orchid, has been empty since 2004, and most of the businesses operating out of St George’s Walk for the past decade have done so on a low-rent, short-lease basis, giving the area a run-down feel that is regarded by some as a no-go zone after dark.
Today, Property Week quoted a Minerva spokesperson as saying: “Having spent the last couple of years investing in the overall Queen’s Square site, we now believe this is the right time for another party to deliver this vitally important project for Croydon.” Translated: having land-banked the properties for two years, they set up a bidding war and have pocketed a nice little earner.
“The St George’s House planning permission has been implemented, existing Section 106 Agreement revised and a masterplan has been prepared and discussed with Croydon Council,” Minerva said.
“It will now be for R&F Properties to consider the most appropriate way to bring the scheme forward.”
The Croydon deal has been announced despite the Beijing government recently announcing tighter controls on currency leaving China.
In announcing the purchase, Xia Ning, for R&F Properties, said: “As a newcomer to the UK market, we are excited to bring our expertise and enthusiasm to this significant town centre scheme.
“We aspire to provide positive real estate schemes across the world and look forward to working closely with the local community, businesses and stakeholders, to deliver the most appropriate scheme for the benefit of the borough.”
Which would be a first.
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