London's key 2012 Olympic town, Wembley City, will attract football fans in droves to England's capital. First, surrounding areas must be regenerated to kick-start retail and residential projects. Nick Shattock of developer Quintain explains why the race is on to lure UAE investors to the game of urban redevelopment.
Make no mistake. Quintain, a British property investment and development company can afford to be choosy when it comes to the type of investors it wants. With Wembley City, Wembley Arena and the Millennium Dome on its books, Deputy Chief Executive Nick Shattock is adamant he knows exactly what the company must do next to maintain its high-profile goals.
We think there is a cross-border capacity for sharing technology and know-how and we are interested in finding long-term capital...a firm that knows what it means to build a town.
"We have 21 million sq ft of planning in London alone so we receive approaches. People want to get involved in Quintain's platform of building locations and places of great mixed-use developments. It's our policy to take proper exposure to key people who can drive assets for the locations we're creating," says Nick Shattock, Deputy Chief Executive of developer, Quintain.
The Wembley City scheme, one of Europe's largest regeneration projects will transform Wembley's backstreets into a residential, retail and commercial haven for residents, workers and tourists. The end result, at a cost of US$4.4 billion and over a time span of 15 years, will see the launch of an entire new city within the UK capital.
An emerging city
Around 365,000 sq m surrounding the stadium will see the emergence of 85,000 sq m of office and commercial space. Another 55,000 sq m will deliver a retail district that includes a 14,000 sq m designer outlet and promises to be the biggest shopping centre in the UK. Around 46,000 sq m will provide city-lovers with entertainment and leisure facilities with plans to provide the biggest cinema in the British Isles.
"We create locations and places in areas that need regeneration. We take assets the Government wants help on such as Wembley Stadium or Millennium Dome and we help to solve their issues. The Government backs us to get the planning quickly. What we look for in our schemes is a big surge in value where we get critical mass in retail and leisure," says Shattock.
Some might argue that noone knows how to build grand, money-spinning retail and leisure facilities as well as UAE developers. In fact, the company already enjoys a relationship with Abu Dhabi-based, Aldar who has a joint-venture with one of Quintain's construction firms, Lang O'Rourke.
"We think there is a cross-border capacity for sharing technology and know-how and we are interested in finding long-term capital but fundamentally finding a firm that knows what it means to build a town but recognizing that we've got great skill not only in slashing historical UK planning timetables but also an ability to recognize where the people-drivers are to make these sites super perform," emphasizes Shattock.
Global company exposure is high-up on Quintain's agenda. Well aware of the current financial crisis particularly in the UK and the US, the developer's latest visit to Cityscape Dubai appears two-fold. On the one hand the firm planned to have investor talks based on a "high level of trust," and on the other Quintain has said it will open an office in Dubai by the end of the year with plans to invest in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other emirates.
At Cityscape, Quintain showcased a model indicating where stations will be positioned, residential offerings and two towers due to be built infront of Wembley Stadium. Expansion
Quintain's current priority is to rise to the challenge of silencing skeptics by building a trophy that will sidekick US$263 million a year into the local economy and entice 22 million visitors a year to a project backed by former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone.
"I negotiated with the Labour Government a US$6.8m fund for the current Mayor to spend over three years building homes for rent and intermediate homes where you buy into it. The good news for developers in London is that the current Mayor has got US$6.8m which translates as 50,000 homes being built in three years," says former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone.