Fortress Wapping sells for $226m
Wapping is expected to be developed along the lines of nearby St Katherine Docks. Photo: Reuters
RUPERT MURDOCH'S former News International headquarters, named ''fortress Wapping'' in the 1980s, was sold last week to a property developer for £150 million ($226 million).
That was marginally below the original asking price, and was the equivalent of a year's pre-recession profits at Mr Murdoch's publishing empire. It was sold after The Sun, The Sunday Times and The Times moved to nearby premises at Thomas More Square.
However, the transaction was overshadowed by events such as the closure of the News of the World and the phone-tapping scandals.
After a lengthy negotiation the British residential developer Berkeley Homes has bought the site through its subsidiary St George. The deal was brokered by the head of East London for CBRE, Matthew Black.
Mr Black says the newly minted Wapping Village lies to the south of The Highway, close to St Katharine Docks. It has four distinct zones, ranging from a grade II listed 200-year-old warehouse to the 1986 built Printworks.
The site covers 111,764 square metres in four zones, being the older printworks, the Rum Warehouse, Times House, and a large car park. It was near the car park entrance that mounted police clashed with union workers in the 1980s.
It is expected that after significant work on the grounds that Berkeley will redevelop it to offer townhouses and apartments in a similar style to the adjoining St Katherine Dock.
Mr Black said the proximity of the area to the City of London's office district and the surrounding tourist areas such as the Tower of London has increased the demand for the property. It is also on the same transport routes to the East London regeneration area, which is the site of the athletes' village and main arena for the 2012 Olympics at Stratford.
There is also the Westfield Stratford mall, the biggest in Europe.
Grá´inne Gilmore, head of Knight Frank's UK residential research, said in a new report that opportunities to buy spacious accommodation at prices that were significantly cheaper than the city have made the area a more attractive opportunity for wealthier individuals. ''The recent completion of the East London line has also made the area more accessible, and the Crossrail station at Whitechapel will allow residents to get across town to Baker Street in just 12 minutes,'' she said.
''Since 2001, prices across the whole of the city fringe have risen by 92 per cent, lagging slightly behind the 101 per cent growth seen in the existing prime central areas, but underlining that this is still an evolving market which we believe has more potential for growth.''