By Angela Lovely
Derwent London plc have made few friends in Fitzrovia. After last week’s endorsement of their unpopular plans by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson they will have even fewer. Saatchi & Saatchi who occupy the building named after them will have to move out when the re-development starts in 2013 and they are likely to leave Fitzrovia for good because they can no longer afford the rents here.
Last Friday the Evening Standard reported that Derwent London wanted to house the ad agency in one of its other properties in Fitzrovia before inviting them back into the newly refurbished building when it is completed in 2015. The trouble is the rent Derwent want to charge is too high. Saatchi & Saatchi currently pay £30 a square foot and would pay up to £40 but Derwent want to charge nearer £60, or even more.
Evening Standard columnist Peter Bill wrote:
The sad fact is the agency is being priced out of an area made fashionable by Charles and Maurice Saatchi when they set up shop just above the eastern end of Oxford Street 40 years ago.
The capital’s adland, centred around Charlotte Street, has developed an international reputation for creativity and I have no doubt that its redevelopment can only be good news for both the West End and the wider London economy.
Good news for Derwent he should have said. As Peter Bill points out:
[Derwent] gets to increase the space in Charlotte Street from 200,000 square feet to 370,000 square feet. Income will more than quadruple from £4.2 million to £18 million. That will boost book value to £360 million from less than £100 million, given the new block will be worth 20 times the rent. Not bad, given building costs of £125 million.
Saatchi & Saatchi have been in Fitzrovia for so long that they are very much part of the scenery. The workers there have contributed to the local economy of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. Their office block — a combination of Victorian, 1930s and later architecture — may not be the prettiest pile around but they’ve been good neighbours in Fitzrovia.
Derwent London on the other hand haven’t been here very long and are already shaping up to be the neighbours from Hell. Now Boris Johnson has sent out a signal that this sort of behaviour is acceptable. In his lust for Crossrail cash, the bigger the development, the bigger the contribution to its £18bn construction costs.
Open space and affordable housing will all be pushed aside. And so too will be much of Fitzrovia’s creative industry.