Grosvenor Square: Europe’s most coveted residential address?
By Iain Johnson, Design Director, Rigby and Rigby
It’s a bold claim, being the sought-after postcode – not just in super prime London, but anywhere in Europe – but it’s one I feel confident in making on behalf of Grosvenor Square, this surprisingly peaceful, always elegant, and impeccably-connected (in every sense of the word) corner of central London.
The second largest of all London squares, Grosvenor Square is nearing its 300 th birthday in style. Built between 1725-31 by the then Duke of Westminster it was thought that the square would appeal the residents of nearby St James Square which was at the time considered to be the most fashionable address in London.
Grosvenor Square is central London living at its very best. In the heart of one of London’s most desirable boroughs the combination of easy access to the West End, the Royal parks and the capital’s world class shopping and dining has an eternal appeal to the higher echelons of the global property market.
The square itself is unpretentious, steeped in history and offering a shady, peaceful and open green space in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities – affording privacy and a stunning view for residents.
In its early years the square was considered to be sufficiently grand enough for it to be rumoured that George II was considering it as a place of residence for the Prince of Wales. Indeed people of title have consistently made up the majority of residents of the Georgian townhouses and elegant apartment blocks that line the square ever since, even today, which is perhaps surprising given that the overwhelming majority of superprime property deals in London today are with foreign investors.
In recent years, the recent redevelopment of the public realm in nearby Mount Street, which has created a village feel, as well as redevelopment work to return some of the business properties to residential use in the square, has attracted exclusive brands and businesses to the area as well as new residents – all combining to ensure property prices are amongst the highest in the capital. It is also true to say that Grosvenor Square properties come to the market only rarely, they are such prized possessions and many have remained in families across generations.
For almost 100 years Grosvenor Square has perhaps been best known for the cluster of embassies that have made their home there, giving Grosvenor Square an international vibe – not to mention enabling residents to benefit from an extremely high-spec Neighbourhood Watch programme.
Notable neighbours – many now selling up – have included the French, Belgian, Japanese and Canadian diplomatic corps but perhaps the most famous residents of the square have been the Americans who first took up residence at 1 Grosvenor Square in 1938 before moving to their Eero Saarinen designed Embassy building in 1960.
However, although Grosvenor Square property values have certainly remained buoyant on the back of the presence of the diplomatic community, for me it actually is the departure of the embassies – and particularly that of the US Embassy to a new site south of the Thames – that is unlocking the true value of Grosvenor Square.
New owners of the US Embassy building, Qatari Diar – the Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund – and developer Chelsfield, are rumoured to be planning a high-end luxury hotel and apartment development within the Grade II-listed modernist building which I believe will helps to add yet another layer of premium on the value of the all-too few properties that come up for sale on the square.
Many of our clients travel extensively and need a London base for work or entertaining that offers a prestigious location and with excellent connections, both qualities for which Grosvenor Square is almost without compare.
Rigby and Rigby has recently completed a number of developments in and around Grosvenor Square including a fabulous £11.5m apartment on the southwest corner, overlooking the US Embassy, where the square meets South Audley Street.
Classic contemporary in style, the three-bedroom apartment was designed to maximise the benefits of its location for business whilst remaining a welcoming and comfortable London base. The design combines unique accents such as Calacatta Vagli Oro stone, bespoke ebonised timber panelling, dark herringbone wood flooring with dramatic flair, such as a stunning 600-piece commissioned ivory ceramic and gold leaf ceiling sculpture in the main reception room.
Released to the market in October, within a matter of days we had our first offer – the first of several interested parties and an indication of how sought after Grosvenor Square remains, some 300-years after it first stole attention away from established, high society neighbours and started its journey towards becoming, arguably, the most coveted postcode in Europe.