A luxury apartment scheme in the exclusive neighbourhood of Chelsea, backed by Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, has moved a step closer to completion.
The scheme, which consists of 78 upmarket apartments, has appointed property consultant JLL as its adviser, according to The Times.
JLL will advise on all options for the site, known as The Clearings on Draycott Avenue, which could include running a process to find a developer to build the scheme in a joint venture.
The billionaire founder of Sports Direct first became involved in 2015 when he funded the £200 million purchase of the former John Lewis & Partners depot by the developers Citygrove Securities and McLaren Property.
Ashley was thought to have backed the deal through his holding company Mash Holdings, whose profits more than doubled from £256 million to £543 million in the year to 30 April 2014 when Ashley sold down his majority stake in Sports Direct.
The Clearings represents Ashley’s first foray into London’s luxury residential market. The site is owned in a joint venture between McGrove Developments, a personal vehicle of Ashley, and Citygrove and McLaren, but most of the financial backing is Ashley’s, The Times reported.
When the Clearings was bought it had planning permission for 62 flats and seven townhouses.
Since then, planning consent has been changed to provide a 78-apartment scheme designed by KPF, an American architecture firm working on the redevelopment of Hudson Yards in New York, the largest private real estate development in US history.
The scheme is also expected to house a retail unit, private leisure facilities, concierge and residents’ business suite, as well as dedicated secure basement car parking for the private apartments.
As part of planning permission, the developers have already built a state primary called Marlborough School for 400 pupils, which is open and full. It replaced a former Victorian school building, which was first opened in 1878 and was demolished despite residents fighting to save it.
One property market source told The Times: “Mike Ashley is always getting such a hard time but not many people would spend £35 million building a school before you have even started developing or selling any of the flats.”
The scheme will cost £250 million to build but, given its location on the border of Chelsea and Knightsbridge, it could have an end value of many times that when complete. It was previously suggested the development could be worth £900 million when it is finished.
JLL has been appointed to help the joint venture to assess options, which could include building it out themselves or teaming up with another developer.
The site is expected to be completed in May 2022, covering a total of 192,500 square feet, according to McLaren.
Ashley has previously indicated an interest in London’s property market, having reportedly bid to buy Brixton market in south London.
Ashley was beaten to the deal by Irish property investor Aidan Brook’s Tribeca Holdings, which was itself gazumped by Hondo Enterprises, controlled by London-based Texan Taylor McWilliams who is part of the DJ collective Housekeeping.
DMZ doesn’t think Mike Ashley and luxury really go hand-in-hand, but as the apartments are being designed by leading architects KPF we reckon they’ll be highly attractive to Chelsea’s wealthy residents.