£470m Nine Elms Square deal completes (with a twist)

VINCI St. Modwen, the 50/50 JV between St Modwen Properties Plc and VINCI Plc, has completed on the sale of its 10-acre Nine Elms Square site, although there’s been a big twist in the tail…

The most high-end bit of VSM’s 57-acre swathe of South London, which centres around New Covent Garden Market, the UK’s largest fruit and vegetable market, was originally put up for sale in 2016 and came close to being snapped up in March, before Wanda Commercial Property Hong Kong, a subsidiary of Chinese property giant Dalian Wanda came along with cash in hand, exchanging in June at £470m. A statement released to the stock exchange on Monday confirmed completion of the sale, but made no mention of the buyer, leading to some interesting speculation.

It subsequently emerged that Dalian Wanda has actually walked away from the acquisition completely, with a spokesperson telling Reuters that the site “belonged to a third party”. Guangzhou-based R&F Properties (which snapped up the neighbouring Vauxhall Square site off CLS in April) has been named as the new owner, although an official statement has yet to surface. Wanda has been approached for comment.

A Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed masterplan was approved for the site back in 2015, offering up a cluster of towers delivering 1,800 new homes – including a trio of towers peaking at 54-storeys. Marketing bunf, however, pointed out that “The planning permission establishes a development quantum and leaves potential for a creative developer to deliver their own vision for central London’s newest residential destination.”

While VSM won’t have anything further to do with the future of Nine Elms Square, it has promised to remain “closely involved” in the wider regeneration of the Nine Elms area through its development agreement with CGMA, which will see it sort new market facilities for New Covent Garden Market and in doing so, safeguard the existing 2,500 market jobs.

A statement released by the JV in June added: “As the joint venture progresses with the delivery of the new market, the remaining 10 acres of development land will be released in phases for future transformation into three distinct character areas; to be known as Nine Elms Gardens, Nine Elms Grove and Thessaly Road that will feature a vibrant mix of residential, commercial, retail and leisure uses.”

Speaking when the deal exchanged, St Modwen’s Chief Exec Mark Allan: “The sale of Nine Elms Square is an important milestone, which will realise the capital required to fund the construction of over 500,000 sq ft of new market facilities. It also crystallises a significant element of the value we have been able to create on this complex, inner London development site. Together with our joint venture partner, VINCI plc, we remain very much committed to the longer term regeneration of Nine Elms and are excited about the opportunities ahead.”

This is an updated version of a story that first appeared on Monday morning