Monday, 2 April 2012

Losing one’s identity


The loss of another of the characters of Kensington and Chelsea

The arrival of the new wealth of the Chinese and Russians in Kensington and Chelsea has brought with it, for many, numerous benefits.

Homeowners have seen the value of their properties rise dramatically and smart new fashion stores have opened. That the majority of the locals now drive cars such as Range Rovers, Bentleys and Porsches, can only be good for car dealers and that one can enjoy a club sandwich for £19.50 at Ladurée is certainly splendid for that particular restaurant chain.

The Maskells advert for 174 Walton Street, London, SW3

Adjoining the Baity Kitchen café and Nina Naustdal’s boutique, 174 Walton Street is a building with a window display that has always fascinated me. Over the years it has born statements against all manner of conflicts ranging from Cyprus to the war on Iraq. Standing Edgar Allen Poe-esque, this small shop is one of the last remaining elements of character in a street now dominated by fancy boutiques and interior design stores.

174 Walton Street’s sign in support of David Cameron: “Britain One Leader, One Cameron, I put my faith in Cameron.”

From what I’ve been told, the property was run as the Ozten Zeki Gallery until one day a curtain suddenly went up and business ceased. In the coming years the building fell into disrepair and neighbours informed me last year that the owner was taken into some form of protective care. Yesterday, whilst walking past, I discovered the building was for sale.

Declarations from the owner of 174 Walton Street: “Stop attacking this property and its owner occupier” and “Stop loitering around my home.”

The freehold 838 square foot unrenovated property comprises of two ground floor shop/reception rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. On the first floor there are two small bedrooms and outside there is an overgrown garden measuring 28ft x 14’6”. A surprisingly high price of £2,500 per square foot, or £2,100,000, is sought through agents Maskells in an area where renovated properties generally sell for just £2,000.

The contrast between the “haves” and the “have nots” of Knightsbridge. A Bentley, registration X1 UAE, parked alongside a Nissan Micra with a window taped shut.

Gentrification is all very well but I, for one, will be sorry to witness yet another of the area’s few remaining eccentricities disappear and replaced by yet another soulless shop.

174 Walton Street, London, SW3 2JL is for sale through Maskells. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7581 2216. For details, go to: http://www.maskells.co.uk/property/full_details?particulars_id=1000892488

7 comments:

Peter said...

This estate agent is a fool to take on the instruction. It only makes them look like they don't understand values in the area. It won't sell at this price.

Amy said...

You may be about to eat your words. This is the only vacant freehold shop which has been available for some considerable time on the preferred north side of this street where there is also a large private garden.

Matthew Steeples said...

 Amy of Maskells (I saw you work there from your email address):

"The favoured north side" comment: It is a busy street and the buildings are mostly covered in grime. It doesn't matter which side they are on. Opposite are noisy bars and at night, particularly in the summer, it is crammed full of drunks and noisy folk.

There are shops aplenty available in the area as so many businesses have sadly failed. It's hardly unique in being freehold. The former Galoupet restaurant at 13 Beauchamp Place is also freehold and currently available if you need local examples. I am sure the former Beauchamp Club will also come up (if it hasn't already) soon too.

You are also marketing this as potentially a house with your description of "2 reception rooms." Who in their right mind would want to live next to a cafe with air conditioning units?

Have you received any offers for this property yet? Whatever happens, I do believe whatever comes next for this building can only be yet another sad downturn for the area.

Amy said...

  Hi Matthew. I am interested in your response because Maskells has been in this street since 1971 and of course wouldn't want it's village  atmosphere to be spoilt. However this building is, as you obviously know, in very poor repair and would enormously benefit from modernisation. It’s most unlikely that this property would be of interest to anyone as a private home (although it has an excellent garden behind it) but this is in theory possible as planning consent lapsed many years ago and whoever buys this property will need to reapply for consent. The town planning department say that A1 user (i.e. for a shop) is a virtual certainty but they would also consider an application for residential use. We have had several acceptable offers but I won’t tell you anymore about them until contracts have been exchanged. With luck that will be next week! Finally, you possibly know a little bit about our client. Suffice to say that she will benefit enormously from this potential windfall, which hopefully will enable her to buy a little flat in the neighborhood and put away enough capital gain to provide a reasonable income!   
 
Hi Matthew. I am interested in your response because Maskells has been in this street since 1971 and of course wouldn't want it's village  atmosphere to be spoilt. However this building is, as you obviously know, in very poor repair and would enormously benefit from modernisation.
It’s most unlikely that this property would be of interest to anyone as a private home (although it has an excellent garden behind it) but this is in theory possible as planning consent lapsed many years ago and whoever buys this property will need to reapply for consent. The town planning department say that A1 user (i.e. for a shop) is a virtual certainty but they would also consider an application for residential use.
We have had several acceptable offers but I won’t tell you anymore about them until contracts have been exchanged. With luck that will be next week!
Finally, you possibly know a little bit about our client. Suffice to say that she will benefit enormously from this potential windfall, which hopefully will enable her to buy a little flat in the neighborhood and put away enough capital gain to provide a reasonable income!   

Matthew Steeples said...

Hello again Amy:

I do know of Maskells from when my good friend Ali Jubb worked there.

I understand your points about the building, rather like the one next to The Enterprise, having fallen into decline. Sadly, however, whatever replaces these things now are only going to be gentrified and out of the reach of ordinary locals. Don't get me wrong, I'm no lefty myself and like the finer things in life but there needs to be a balance.

All of the local pubs that "real" people frequent have gone and the traditional green grocers and butchers are all but dead. Just like in the country, where Tesco and Sainsbury's are decimating local market towns, we're seeing the same in SW3. The Kings Road is now nothing other than a collection of high street tat and Walton Street is nearly only the haunt of the super rich. I think that is sad. Of course you will champion this trend because you, as an agent, make money as values increase, but nonetheless what made this area attractive in the first place in that process is being wiped out.

I don't doubt that you will achieve a sale on this house, if the owner doesn't scupper it (I hear she is quite volatile), at some crazy price and I wish her well in wherever she ends up. I despair, however, that yet another element of character will pass into the archives.

Best wishes

Matthew Steeples

William P said...

What a debate. I, as a local, am equally upset to see the nutjobs replaced with fancy shops. The loss of The Australian, The Moore Arms and The Shuckburgh (sp??) to be replaced respectively by Helen Green (crappy overpriced interiors stuff), housing and Baker & Spice (overpriced coffee shop for stick insect women) is what gets my goat most. Where can us locals get a decent pint?

Jesse said...

Bravo, Matthew!  When Da Steeps speaks, it is always from the heart, head and soul.  The sad and disturbing house on Walton Street has been there as long as I can remember, and let us hope that Amy is right that the unseen occupier will be well looked after, once the house is sold.

Chelsea's loss of its indivuality is a variation on a common refrain of our times, but I deeply miss the wild and wacky King's Road of  thirty years ago, when I first picthed up in London.  For a clueless American kid, fresh off the boat, it was beyond Wonderland.  Now it's a row of international chain stores from end to end.  One might be tempted to follow the wierdoes to whatever part of the world they now occupy, but it's probably Shoreditch, and that's a sacrifice I refuse to make! LOL

Another terrific piece, Matthew.  Thanks!