Covent Garden, that stretch of meandering streets off The Strand that culminates in the famous piazza, has been through every stage of London life. It started out, as many of the City’s suburbs did, as countryside, serving as gardens for Westminster Abbey. Then came its first gentrification phase when Henry VIII seized the land and architect Inigo Jones was commissioned to design fine townhouses to attract wealthy gentlemen. As the square became more fashionable, the Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market sprouted up.
Eventually, the area fell into disrepair and it became such a notorious red light district that an Act of Parliament was drawn up to take control of the area. As the city expanded, a concentration of theatres opened up including the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet, establishing the area as a cultural tourist hotspot.
Now, there are only two more pieces of the regeneration puzzle left; commercial and residential. In 2006, Capital & Counties Properties (Capco) bought the largest stake in the area and the developer is responsible for 956,000sqft of the Covent Garden estate. Under Capco’s stewardship, the area has become a vibrant tourist hub, attracting around 43m visitors a year. The developer has made leaps and bounds in the commercial stakes, too, restoring the Apple Market into a craft market, and attracting high end retailers such as Burberry, Chanel and Dior. The revamp of Covent Garden’s retail offering has also attracted high profile restaurants to the area such as Lima Floral and Balthazar. The Ivy Market Grill is set to open on the west side of the piazza, but the real game-changer resides in the floors above.
Last year, Capco entered the Covent Garden residential market with two developments, The Henrietta and The Russell. This week The Beecham, directly above the upcoming Ivy Market Grill, went on sale. This didn’t stop one eager buyer snapping an apartment up off-plan, but now everyone has a chance to live on Covent Garden’s famous square. Situated between Henrietta Street and Southampton Street, nine luxury apartments are nearing completion. The icing on the cake is two three-bedroom duplex penthouses that come with terraces surrounded by historic brickwork chimneytops, looking out on the bustling street performers, shoppers and St Paul’s church.
The developer is also using its estate in Covent Garden to launch its first venture in luxury rental, with 16 one, two and three bedroom apartments and penthouses available at The Southampton. The two developments represent an investment of around £30m. “Drawing on our expertise as stewards of the Covent Garden estate, we have an understanding of the needs and desires of our clientele and anticipate high levels of interest for these homes,” said Sarah-Jane Curtis, director of Capco Covent Garden. Whether living in Covent Garden will be seen as a luxury in a few years’ time is anyone’s guess, but the area’s rapid redevelopment certainly suggests it’s more than a passing fad.
Prices at The Beecham start from £1.65m for a one bedroom apartment and the penthouses are priced on application. For more information, visit capitalandcounties.com.