The West End’s most quirky and bohemian quarter has never commanded the status that its location, at the very heart of London, deserves. One reason is the virtual absence of grand period architecture (Fitzroy Square is the exception).
Much of the area was developed by small landowners rather than a single aristocratic estate. This led to a predominance of small and irregular streets rather than a grid-like network of roads and squares, which now gives Fitzrovia a distinct villagey charm.
Today, the area is popular with media companies, especially around the Charlotte Street heartland of bars, brasseries and boutique hotels, and it is here that Fitzrovia’s “first genuine loft apartments” have arrived on the market.
A Twenties office block has been remodelled to provide eight rental apartments. It is a tasteful transformation by niche developer Urban Evolution, which is returning to its West End roots after undertaking a string of projects in Belgravia. Its trademark is classy, not opulent, architectural interior design.
Called Rathbone Lofts, the Fitzrovia scheme is a handsome brick-façade building with new factory-style, grey-framed Crittall windows. The apartments are above new ground-floor commercial premises already let to an advertising agency and have antique parquet flooring throughout, as well as bespoke oak joinery, column radiators, marble-clad bathrooms, handmade kitchens, exposed beams, high ceilings and double doors. It is a warm, comfortable and stylish look.
Perched at the top of the building is a three-bedroom duplex penthouse with floor-to-ceiling windows, a big open-plan living space and a wrap-around terrace with views over the Soho rooftops. Rents range from £575 to £1,950 a week. For more information, call 020 7580 1010.
'Property transactions on this patch are continuing despite the wider market malaise'
“They’re really cool pads and will strike a chord with local creatives,” says Laurence Glynne of estate agent LDG. “Renters tend to be a lot fussier than buyers. They want to live somewhere for a set period and if the place is not right, they won’t go for it, whereas buyers will say ‘I could do something with this’.”
Property transactions on this patch are continuing despite the wider market malaise, he adds. “I’m not saying it’s insulated from a recession but the West End is a dynamic place and much more complex than other areas; there’s always someone who wants to buy, sell, invest or rent.”
Derwent London, the area’s major landowner, wants to create a retail district to complement the Tottenham Court Road retail pitch and the lively scene around Charlotte Street. Qube, a new shopping and office zone close to Heal’s and Habitat, includes seven two-bedroom flats for rent with an entrance on Whitfield Street. Call 020 7659 3000.
If you want to buy, about £300,000 is the entry price for a one-bedroom flat. For more information, call Kay & Co on 020 7486 6338.
For now, the residential community remains small but supply is increasing with new flats above shops, single house refurbishments and office conversions, while on the horizon are much bigger schemes — notably the redevelopment of Middlesex Hospital in Mortimer Street.
Fitzrovia Apartments in Bolsover Street is due for completion in 2010. There are 110 new flats priced from £650,000. Call Hamptons International on 020 7758 8477.