The grand Grade II listed former London HQ of White Star Line – which launched probably the most (in)famous ship in the world, RMS Titanic – at 1 Cockspur Street, next to Trafalgar Square, has been converted into seven “liner themed” luxury apartments, with prices ranging from £5.265m to above £25m.
Oceanic House, a Neo-Classical Portland Stone building of monumental proportions, fronted with vast three-storey columns, was built between 1903 and 1906 for the old-time shipping behemoth, with the ground floor serving as a lavish booking office for First Class passengers aboard the Titanic, Olympic and other opulent ocean liners. Upper floors housed palatial meeting rooms and offices, and it was here that White Star’s Chairman Bruce Ismay held a press conference to boast about his “unsinkable” new boat, the Titanic (which sank on its maiden voyage, on 16th April 1912), and where he made the unfortunate call to cut the number of lifeboats on the ship from 48 to just 16 (Ismay escaped in lifeboat C; 1,517 others did not). In the aftermath of the disaster, Oceanic House became something of a focal point for media, protestors and mourners, with police protection surrounding the building.
1 Cockspur Street remained White Star Line’s London base until 1929 (the firm was acquired by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and moved to Leadenhall Street, before merging with and eventually being subsumed by rival shipping operator Cunard – which was also based on Cockspur Street). Oceanic House then became the London regional offices of Barclays Bank, then did a stint as offices of the Ministry of Defence before, in the 1990s, becoming the “Texas Embassy”, a restaurant and promotional centre for the State of Texas.
Now, the 30,000 square foot Oceanic House has been converted into six lateral apartments and one spectacular duplex penthouse, ranging from from 1,679 to 5,447 square feet, all drenched with the sort of contemporary take on turn-of-the-century trans-Atlantic grandeur you’d hope for.
BLDA Architects has done some sterling work re-imagining the building’s historic interior architecture, restoring key features (such as the pedimented arch and balustrade crowning the main entrance) while remodelling to create two three-bed apartments, four two-beds, and a four-bedroom duplex penthouse with two roof terraces, all with direct lift access from the 18-foot high lobby (which houses a scale model of the Titanic).
In 2012, asset management firm Misland Capital Ltd acquired the Crown Estate lease for Oceanic House on behalf of a client. Misland subsequently obtained a lease extension and planning approval and, in late 2014, set about re-developing the building into seven ultra-high spec apartments and two retail units.
Formed by Manchester magnate Peter Green and Irish stockbroking tycoon Kyran McLaughlin, Misland Capital was bought by the Telegraph-owning media-shy billionaire Barclay brothers, Sir David and Sir Frederick, back in 2011. The brothers, you may remember, offloaded their c.25% stake in Claridge’s, the Berkeley and the Connaught hotels (the Maybourne Group, which came via their Misland acquisition) to Qatari outfit Constellation Hotels Group in April this year.
The Oceanic deal was just one of a fleet of acquisitions and disposals made in prime London by Misland for its client; the firm says the deal roster currently runs to around £470m, and includes 25 Hanover Square (an office development which bagged the first £100 per square foot rates in London); Burlington Arcade; The Maybourne Group of Hotels, and Cartier and Prada Old Bond Street retail premises. Misland is currently planning to re-develop 24 St James Square – which it acquired at etc start of 2015 for a reported £42m – into trophy office space for the rental market.
The development of 1 Cockspur street has been overseen by a veteran team under the “Oceanic Developments Ltd” banner. Past projects by the company’s directors include a 7,000 square foot ultra-prime residence at 21 St James’s Place, a seven unit scheme at 77 South Audley Street (sold off-plan to Luxlo, which turned the development into a record-breaker), and a super-prime seven-apartment scheme at 105-106 Lancaster Gate.
Ellmer Construction – part of luxury development specialists the Byrne Group – is the main contractor on site; the firm has been around since 1875, with past projects including the London Olympic Stadium, Bvlgari Hotel & Residences, The Connaught Hotel & Residences, Claridge’s Hotel and Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, Selfridges, Fortnum & Manson, Liberty and Dior New Bond Street.
Beauchamp Estates is on marketing duties.
As you’d expect from a development from this team in this location, the finish is to quite the high standard, with a 24-hour concierge, engineered oak parquet flooring, Poggenpohl kitchen stuff, underfloor heating and bathrooms draped in Carrara or Nero Marquina marble.
Gary Hersham, Partner at Beauchamp Estates: “The apartments at Oceanic House represent a unique, once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity to purchase a piece of iconic British history and acquire a luxurious home in the former headquarters of the famous White Star Line in the heart of London’s West End.“
Paul Finch, Head of New Homes Sales at Beauchamp Estates: “Oceanic House sits within the Trafalagar Square ‘crossroads’ where Whitehall, the Strand, Covent Garden and Pall Mall/St James’s meet. Whitehall, the heart of UK government; adjacent St James’s and the Strand/Covent Garden are undergoing transformation into a luxury residential and hotel destination. The location is adjacent to Mayfair and Belgravia, but without the corresponding peaks in residential values. Purchasers at Oceanic House have the benefit of buying into a formerly overlooked location which is now undergoing rapid transformation into a luxury residential address, with the associated capital value uplift that occurs with regeneration and huge inward investment.”
- DEVELOPER/OWNER: Misland Capital
- DEVELOPER: Oceanic Developments Ltd
- CONSTRUCTION: Ellmer Construction Ltd (Byrne Group)
- ARCHITECT: Barrett Lloyd Davis Associates (BLDA)
- QUANTITY SURVEYOR: Banks Woods & Partners
- M&E CONSULTANT: Hoare Lea
- STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Walsh Associates
- INTERIOR FIT-OUT: The Deluxe Group
- MARKETING: Beauchamp Estates