Westminster Council has approved proposals for one of London’s most famous landmarks to be turned into a 100-bed luxury hotel — with a private 16,856sq ft apartment that could sell for £120 million-plus.
Currently vacant, Grade I-listed Admiralty Arch stands at the top of The Mall with views of Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. The building was sold by the Treasury on a 125-year lease last October to Spanish developer Rafael Serrano for a reported £60 million.
Once the home of the First Sea Lord, the building’s last occupant was former deputy prime minister John Prescott, who had a grace and favour flat there.
Financial wizard Serrano, who began his career as an investment banker at JP Morgan, intends to create a 100-bed hotel with a pool and ballroom in a newly constructed basement complex and a private members club. There will also be a triplex apartment covering the first, mezzanine and third floor of the north block of the arch with a private entrance on Spring Gardens.
According to plans by Blair Associates Architects, the apartment will measure 16,856 sq ft – 34 times the average size of a one-bedroom flat which, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects, measures 495 sq ft.
Attempting to value such a property will be a challenge. But based on the current record price in London - £7,250 a sq ft paid for an apartment in the One Hyde Park development in Knightsbridge - the apartment could be valued over £120 million. It is not known if Mr Serrano intends to sell the property or keep it for himself.
Ed Mead, director of Douglas & Gordon estate agents, said that a trophy address was a crucial factor in super-prime property in London. “If it is 1, Admiralty Arch, then that will be valuable in its own right, and having the hotel there will mean they get a full concierge service.”
However he pointed out that the area is known for heavy traffic. “And you are not really in a prime residential spot,” he added. “It is fine if you want to go to the National Gallery or if you are mad about the theatre, but you are quite a long way from everything which is holy to people who pay this sort of money in London.”
Admiralty Arch spans the entrance to Trafalgar Square from The Mall, with traffic passing through two of its three central arches.
The eight-storey building has most recently been used as offices for civil servants but is no longer regarded as suitable for that purpose. The deal with Mr Serrano is part of a cost-cutting strategy that has seen Whitehall officials move out of at least 36 central London properties since the last election.
A spokesman for Prime Investors Capital said: “The principal aim of our proposal is to identify and enhance the heritage values of Admiralty Arch through careful restoration and to secure its long term future by giving the arch a viable use and opening it up to the public.”