On property: Savoy of the City can teach the West a bit about LP

(2011-11-17 11:04:39) 下一個

Leny Suparman wrinkled her nose when asked on Tuesday how her stay at the Savoy was going. The 36-year-old co-founder of the Singaporean Kop Group was in London for the lavish launch of 10 Trinity Square, a 120-bedroom hotel that aims to become the Savoy of the City when it opens in 2014. So it felt like a relevant question.

The former CB Richard Ellis surveyor must feel the one-time home of the Port of London Authority is just the spot for a six-star rival to the grande dame of London's hotels. Last November, she and her female business partner Ong Chih Ching paid £100 million for the hollow square of Portland stone that sits like a seven-storey Christmas cake opposite the Tower of London.

A good deal of that money will have come from the Reignwood Group, run by Thai-Chinese businessman Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang. Kop only began life five years ago, and has two modest projects under way in Singapore. It has formed a joint venture with Reignwood to refurbish the 90-year-old building last in use as the Willis Insurance group's headquarters.

Plans submitted last week by architects Woods Bagot include a club and 37 flats. These plans differ little from those submitted by the same architects in 2009 on behalf of an American, Stan Thomas, who bought the place in 2006 and promised a "seven-star" hotel. Thomas failed to raise the money to pay for construction.

Kop has spent a fortune, and that's just on the launch. Everything, from the 5mm-thick invitations to the four white Rollers to sweep away the favoured among the 300 guests, reeked of money. Singer Alison Goldfrapp was loud - but certainly not cheap. Nor were the mock-up interiors of the rooms assembled by interior designer David Collins.

Maybe it was the Pol Roger champagne, but you could almost feel the world turning from West to East at this Asian takeover of what was once a US project. Back down on financial earth, the joint venture "will be looking for construction finance", said Suparman. She declined to say how much the job will cost. Thomas promised to spend £150 million.

To get early cash back, some of the 34 flats and three penthouses will be pre-sold. "We will be looking for £2500 per square foot," says Suparman of the 90,000 square feet of space with a potential income of £225 million. A couple of agents at the launch wrinkled their noses at £2500. The flats are too big and many face other buildings across narrow streets, they felt.

The three penthouses will go to auction says Suparman, who hopes the 7800-square-foot unit with the best view will fetch £20 million. Ong said the flats and hotel rooms need to be large because "space is a luxury". If you ever want a spacious room in the City's Savoy, it will cost from £450. Luxury.

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