Nov 3, 2014
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Battersea project aims to create new, vibrant London neighborhood

Nov 3, 2014

For visitors coming to London through Victoria train station, it’s a familiar image. Situated on the west bank of the River Thames in the heart of London, the former Battersea Power Station is clad in a mass of red bricks and crowned with long white chimneys.

The planned renewal of the Battersea district.

The iconic building, a world-famous British symbol, was decommissioned in 1983. It appeared on one of Pink Floyd’s album covers and has hosted numerous concerts and festivals bedsides serving as a backdrop for several music videos and films.

But the Battersea Power Station and the surrounding 17 hectares have now opened a new chapter in their history. In 2012, a consortium made up of the Malaysian companies SP Setia and Sime Darby and the Malaysian governmental investment firm EPF acquired the area. Their plan: to developed a new, vibrant neighborhood on the left bank. Their shareholders have created the Battersea Powerstation Development Company and have recruited several star architects including Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Rafael Vinoly. The goal is a revitalized mix of housing, offices and stores...starting out with what’s almost a wasteland.

The planned Electric Boulevard.

The consortium has meanwhile put together a global promotional campaign, having presented the project in 10 cities around the world on October 31. "The goal is to attract partners to join us in the venture,” said Joanne Skilton, head of marketing. “We have just begin our marketing campaign. We’re in Paris to present the project’s potential for major French brands. We’re also in Milan talking with the local ready-to-wear industry and in Hong Kong attempting to attract new restaurant concepts." Some welcome publicity: Sting recently mentioned that he had bought an apartment in the neighborhood. The information was widely reported in the English press. 

The numbers are impressive: the sum required for the area’s renewal has been announced at more than 10 billion euros. The new buildings are planned to accommodate 1.6 million square feet of office space, 4,000 new homes and 227 hotel rooms. 

Circus West, the first phase of the project, could be completed by as early as the end of 2016 and will include a dozen or so dining spaces. However, it should take until late 2019 for the plant to be renewed, with work having begun recently. Eventually, it will serve as a shopping center, with retailers setting up shop on spots formerly occupied by turbines. 

Finally, in the longer term, a third phase centered around the Electric Boulevard, will see the construction of buildings housing a mix of offices, plush accommodations and forty or so stores.

Plans for the future shopping center to be located inside the old power station.

In terms of business, the heart of the project will be located in the former plant, with 700,000 square feet set aside for shopping - easily enough room for a hundred or so stores. "Our motto is 'We don’t do ordinary' and that goes for our stores,” said Skilton. “What we really want is for retailers to come up with new concepts, with new ideas for a different kind of experience at Battersea." 

From now until its opening in 2019, the area should get two new metro stations. Also, between the business center and the stores, the project leaders are aiming to attract 40 million visitors each year.

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