Fitzrovia goes upmarket

Fitzrovia is the media capital of London, where no winter chill can stop the outdoor-café networking. But now sexy new homes and a business club founded by a rock star might just tempt people indoors
Rathbone Lofts
From £575 a week: Rathbone Lofts have parquet floors and marble bathrooms. Call LDG, call 020 7580 1010
Fitzrovia has always been colourful and quirky, a legendary London village with a bohemian flavour that remains an enduring life force today. The evening streets buzz with young people eating outside after work all year round, warmed by countless patio heaters.

A new masterplan by Derwent, the area's major landlord, aims to push the district upmarket by creating a bijou shopping and residential quarter in a former "dead" backstreet area - to extend the fashionable restaurant and bar scene around Charlotte Street.

A bit of Bloomsbury, a bit of Soho, a bit of Marylebone - Fitzrovia's character is distinct



Already popular with media firms, Fitzrovia's fortunes have been rising as former rag-trade workshops have become boutique apartments, with backpacker hotels converted into smart hostelries. Now the area's greatest landmark, the BT Tower, is planning to reopen its revolving 34th-floor restaurant, closed to the public more than three decades ago after an IRA bomb attack.

Fitzrovia is the rectangle enclosed by Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street, Great Portland Street and Euston Road. As such it has a distinct identity and character, boasting a little bit of Soho, a little bit of Marylebone and a little bit of Bloomsbury, all of which it borders.

BT Tower
© Myung Jung Kim
Tall orders: the revolving restaurant in the BT Tower is reopening to the public, more than 30 years after an IRA bomb forced its closure
Despite the W1 postcode, Fitzrovia property is cheaper than most expect. One reason is the lack of grand period architecture. Georgian Fitzroy Square, the best address, is a defiantly "unposh" mix of offices, houses and flats.

Candy & Candy's aborted Noho Square development on the old Middlesex Hospital site was a bid to rebrand the area and deliver top-price flats to London's richest buyers. But the scheme fell victim to the credit crunch. Fresh plans for a large complex where flats are within the budget of local media workers are being led by developer Stanhope, which says the name Noho (North of Soho), which infuriated many Fitzrovians, will go.

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CONTEMPORARY LIVING


Derwent, which owns more than 20 buildings around Whitfield Street in the quieter northern part of Fitzrovia, is liaising with Camden council about the creation of a new part-pedestrianised zone, with galleries, boutiques, small shops, brasseries and designer homes alongside a refurbished park.

One of Derwent's objectives is to improve links between Fitzrovia and the Heal's and Habitat "homewares hub" on Tottenham Court Road. Qube, a new office and retail precinct, has smartened up a Maple Street corner site and includes rental apartments starting at £550 a week.

Fitzrovia Apartments in Bolsover Street
From £675,000: flats at Fitzrovia Apartments in Bolsover Street, a joint venture between Ridgeford and Manhattan Loft Corporation. Call estate agent Druce (020 7935 6535)
Rathbone Lofts is a transformation of a Twenties office building into eight rental flats, from £575 to £1,750 per week. The apartments have parquet flooring, bespoke oak joinery, marbleclad bathrooms, exposed beams and high ceilings. "They're cool pads which strike a chord with local creatives," says Laurence Glynne of estate agent LDG. Call 020 7580 1010.

About £350,000 is the entry price for a one-bedroom flat in the area. Decent two-bedroom mansion block apartments can be picked up for between £500,000 and £750,000.

A contemporary house behind Great Titchfield Street is on the market for £925,000. Refurbished Victorian houses cost from £1million. Comedian and broadcaster Griff Rhys Jones is a resident of Fitzroy Square, where stucco houses cost more than £2million.

Fitzrovia Apartments, on Bolsover Street, raises the bar in terms of design quality, scale and glamour. This redevelopment of the listed Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital on Bolsover Street has a new outpatients facility for the hospital plus studio offices and 70 luxury flats and a landscaped courtyard.

One Alfred Place private members club
Media magnet: One Alfred Place private members club founded by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason
The first of two phases is nearing completion, and the second will be ready in 2011. A show flat will be unveiled at the official launch next February. Prices from £675,000 to £1.7million. The project is a joint venture between Ridgeford and Manhattan Loft Corporation. Call estate agent Druce on 020 7935 6535.

At One Alfred Place, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, who studied architecture before becoming a rock star, has founded a new private members "business club" targeting internet, fashion, film and music industry entrepreneurs "who want a classy and convivial venue for business meetings, presentations and support services".

The designer interior includes an original contemporary art collection, boardrooms and gourmet restaurant. Membership is £1,500 per year, visit www.onealfredplace.co.uk.

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