THE Heron, the City’s first residential development in 30 years, will be second to none, from Hong Kong to LA, in terms of style, views and overall quality of design and finish. This assertion is made in a matter of fact way by Lisa Ronson, head of marketing at The Heron’s mothership, Heron International, and daughter of its CEO, the City’s famous Gerald Ronson. She is a sharply dressed, sharp-eyed woman glittering with tasteful jewels and with a mane of luscious hair. I believe her even though it’s her job to say this – she looks like someone who knows about quality.
But that’s before I begin to see the facts, figures and CGI images of the tower, which will be completed in 2013. City workers looking to cut out their commute, and who value high-octane contemporary elegance and supreme metropolis views, are in for a big treat, whether they’re looking for a small bolthole or a sprawling urban palace.
The Heron – not to be confused with Heron’s other big City project, the non-residental Heron Tower – has an interesting cultural angle. The lower floors will provide a new home for the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and will house exceptional performance spaces, including a 608-seat concert hall and a 227-seat theatre and studio theatre. Combined with The Barbican, its neighbour, the buildings will become one of the most prestigious art complexes in Europe – not a bad feature for a residential block, really.
The Heron is truly designed for practical living, and makes the most of its environment, which is all about the views. The Heron is essentially a glass rectangle – every flat, from the smallest to the largest, will have floor to ceiling views on at least one wall. Residents will be able to bask in the City twilight, sipping their mojitos as the sun goes down over Moorgate’s rooftops, thanks to the private club and roof garden. The plans for the club include a bar and café, screening room and private dining and meeting room with conference and business facilities. A small gym – but no spa – will also be on this level.
Now for the flats. From £450,000 you can have the ultimate pied-a-terre, with the 400 sq ft Galley and Island “suites” in which to sleep, read, work and eat during the week. Top-of-the-line finishes (largely sourced from Italy and Germany), materials and appliances give a space-magnifying gloss to these ultra-compact spaces. The Galley flats have a floor to ceiling shelving unit in the middle that separates a foldaway bed from a living area. Along the side are bountiful cupboards and fold-away desk space. Along the wall in the living area compartment is a retractable hob, a microwave, mini dishwasher, washing machine, fridge and wine storage. So long as you’re neat, this small space will cater magnificently to your needs, from shoe-shopping binges to wine tasting with a few of your closest friends.
The alternative Island layout features a cooking area and counter in the centre of the room rather than the shelf unit. Further up the scale there are one, two and three-bedroom apartments (1184 sq. ft) plus a penthouse – prices go up to several million pounds.
As any hard-won, prestigious development should be these days, The Heron will be an environmentally friendly building and adheres to the Greater London Authority’s guidelines on making London a low carbon city. The development will use the Citigen Combined Heat and Power system for heating, cooling and hot water, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of the development. The need for artificial cooling due to solar gain is minimised by a system of “brise soleil” balconies and screening on the south and west facades of the building.
Completion of The Heron is a while away, but the tower has already attracted a frenzy of interest, so strike soon if you’re interested. And frankly, why wouldn’t you be?
The Heron Marketing Suite is now open to the public. Further information is available at www.theheron.co.uk or by email to
HERON INTERNATIONAL: A CITY DYNASTY
GERALD RONSON, CEO:
Ronson is one of the City’s most famous players. Having begun his business life at 15 when he joined the family’s furniture business, he was made notorious for his arrest in the Guinness Four scandal in the 1980s, when he was accused, along with three others, of being involved in an attempt to manipulate the stock market to inflate the price of Guinness shares. (In 2000 the European Court declared his trial had been unfair.) His remarkable comeback in 1991 after a stint in prison (and a fine of £5m) confirmed his place as a City legend. When he was released, Heron, formerly one of the country’s biggest businesses, was on its knees – in part because of the collapse in the property market. At the time the company consisted of 300 companies in nine countries, and Ronson had to placate 82 banks and 15,000 bondholders – and succeeded, meanwhile letting the family’s private yacht and plane go. “I don't believe in keeping up appearances," he writes in his autobiography, Leading from the Front: My Story. “If you have lost money in business, you have to be prepared to eat humble pie, and if that means the material things go, so be it. They can always be replaced.” He still owns a network of self-service petrol pumps, having introduced them to the UK in the 1960s at great profit – in order to fuel Heron’s property enterprises, and writes in his book: “I most probably know more about petrol retailing than anybody in the country.” He is currently worth an estimated £280m and is a fixture on the London social scene.
One of four daughters of Gerald Ronson and his model wife Gail, Lisa graduated from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology with a BSc Hons in Management Sciences and went on to spend eight years at BZW Investment Bank in London and New York, specialising in South East Asian equity sales covering UK, European and US financial institutions. Lisa joined Heron International in 1999 as Marketing Director, wanting a more creative career path. She leads the branding, marketing, PR, sponsorship and advertising of the Heron International leisure portfolio, as well as playing a significant role in Heron’s UK commercial and residential developments.