In many ways, St James’s resembles the City. Sure, there aren’t any skyscrapers and it’s not half as old, but it’s SW1’s commercial hub and barely anyone lives there. As proud purveyors of men’s garments since the Victorian age, it boasts such prestigious names along Jermyn Street as Turnbull & Asser, Alfred Dunhill, while St James’s Street’s Lock and Co was hatter to Churchill, Wellington and Charlie Chaplin. It’s also arguably the home of the private members’ club, hosting many a distinguished gentleman behind its period facades.
Traditionally, it has been considered the stuffier companion to flashier neighbours such as Mayfair and Knightsbridge. But the Crown Estate – which still owns about 50 per cent of the buildings – embarked on the St James’s Gateway project last year, the first phase of a £500m reinvention of the area.
While it’ll still seek to protect its commercial gems, the project will see a number of residential developers enter the site for the first time in years to boost population numbers, which currently stands at only 5,000 households, according to Hamptons International. The estate agent also predicts that property – meaning mainly flats in this part of town – go for between £1m for a one bed and £3.8m for a three bed, with local capital values falling somewhere between £2,500psqft and £3,500psqft. Not too bad for a prestigious central London address these days.
The problem is, there isn’t a lot of movement – most people who buy in St James’s stay for life, meaning stock rarely becomes available. This has pushed house prices through the roof recently, resulting in one house – a palatial mansion in St James’s Square in need of complete renovation – currently selling for around £50m.
“With minimal transactions in St James’s, capital value movements are hard to gauge, especially as typically deals are secured off-market,” explains Ashley Coleman, head of sales in the area for estate agent Carter Jonas. “Although closely aligned with Mayfair, given the rarity of stock in St James’s, it’s safe to say that it’s currently experiencing more growth, an example being two recent off-market transactions in excess of super-prime Mayfair prices.”
New build developers have recently cottoned on to the super-prime profits to be had and, for the first time in a number of years, they’ve descended on the area.
Amazon Property has created four apartments and dubbed them The Pall Mall Collection; The Carlyle Group has snapped up the Grade-II listed 88 St James’s Street; Dukelease are taking care of Beau House with interiors and development practice Oliver Burns; while the Crown Estate has teamed up with Oxford Properties Group to build the £320m St James’s Market, due to be finished next year.
As a result, Foxtons reported a 44 per cent rise in property prices in the last year alone. But the investment prospects will always be a small part of its appeal, according to Mark Dorman from Strutt & Parker. “Refined and discreet, St James’s is traditionally the haunt of the quintessential English gentleman.”
|Local Area Prices|
|Time to Canary Wharf||18 mins|
|Time to Liverpool Street||23 mins|
|Nearest stations||St James's Park|
5 REASONS TO MOVE TO THE AREA
1 If you’re a cheese fan, it doesn’t get much better than Paxton & Whitfield, which is one of London’s oldest cheesemongers.
2 It may be a tiny area, but it’s big on transport with St James’s Park, Green Park, Piccadilly and Charing Cross all on the doorstep.
3 Shop ‘til you drop in some of London’s most prestigious establishments, with Fortnum & Mason, the Burlington Arcade and Jermyn Street nearby.
4 Catch a lunchtime theatre show at St James’s Theatre.
5 Take a Victoria sponge round to your neighbour Prince Charles at St James’s Palace. He’ll like that.
PRIVATE VIEW: ON THE MARKET IN ST JAMES'S THIS WEEK
A collection of seven apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms fashionably located above Daks in Jermyn Street. Developers Dukelease and Oliver Burns say the design takes inspiration from Beau Brummell, a Regency style icon, whose statue still resides on the same street. Due for completion in 2016.
For more information, register your interest at beauhouselondon.com.
This two bedroom apartment is on sale in Norway House, a refurbished stone building in Cockspur Court. The property is located on the fourth floor and it boasts high ceilings and period features. It’s also within walking distance of Trafalgar Square and the greenery of St James’s Park.
Contact Hamptons International Pimlico on 020 7717 5315 or visit hamptons.co.uk.
A four-bedroom apartment set in a Grade-II listed building. It also has the added glamour of being opposite the Ritz Hotel. It comes with a concierge service and a lift directly to the property. It also features high ceilings, a master bedroom with his ‘n’ hers bathrooms and two reception rooms.
Contact Foxtons Park Lane on 020 7973 2000 or visit foxtons.co.uk.