Hackney Empire plays a leading role in a new scheme of 22 apartments and three mews houses being built right next door to the historic theatre.
© Oliver Lim
Chaplin Apartments, by Thornsett Group, gets its name from Gold Rush star Charlie Chaplin, one of a string of celebrated entertainers who trod the boards at the famous music hall and variety venue, an Edwardian gem modelled on a grand Italian opera house.
The new apartments will sit above new rehearsal rooms and are part of a development deal that aims to put the theatre on a firm financial footing.
Formerly a storage warehouse for props and costumes, the site has another famous association: this is where some of the gold stolen in the 1983 Brink's-Mat robbery was secretly stashed.
This is the heart of up-and-coming Hackney, a "new era" London address and a continuing beneficiary of the regeneration ripple spreading from the Olympics zone in nearby Stratford.
The East London line extension to Dalston has added a further boost. Hackney now has four stations plugged into the Tube network whereas previously it had none. Wider regeneration is continuing along the Regent's Canal; former council blocks are being redeveloped and Victorian terraces are smartening up as young professionals and families move in.
Once-derelict London Fields Lido has been restored, while boarded-up premises along formerly run-down Broadway Market have been turned into art cafés, delis, bars, bookshops and boutiques. A weekend farmers' market has a hundred or so stalls selling organic food and posh cakes (plus vintage clothes, jewellery and bric-a-brac), to a trendy crowd of smart young urbanites, bohemian types and yoga mums.
Prices at Chaplin Apartments start at £320,000, rising to £585,000 for a three-bedroom duplex penthouse with striking views of the City. Call estate agent Currell on 020 7226 6611.
Other new developments in the area include Queensbridge Quarter, a mix of 76 funky and functional apartments and townhouses on the old Holly Street estate. Prices from £270,000. Call estate agent Fyfe McDade on 020 7613 4044.
Arthaus is a factory redevelopment with loft-style apartments, work studios and an art gallery/café. Prices from £300,000. Call 0800 043 2523.
There is an upside to being middle-aged
If you are middle-aged and downsizing you are the target market for many enterprising developers. The "not-old, not-young" generation of active over-50s has more buying power in today's climate. Many of those selling a big family house pay cash for their smaller new property - and still have money left in the bank. Having reached the point where they can afford what they want - rather than what someone is prepared to give them - middle-lifers are choosing fashionable, high-quality schemes with concierge services or country club facilities.
Often apartments are carved out of listed mansions or other heritage properties set in landscaped grounds, with estate management and security for lock-up-and-leave buyers who want to travel.
Cliveden Village has a Thames-side setting in a secluded corner of the famous 376-acre former Astor estate in Buckinghamshire now owned by the National Trust. It is a scheme of 135 coolly modern homes, which some might find crisp to the point of harshness.
Natural materials are used - slate, stone, copper, timber and full-height glazing - while green technology dramatically reduces fuel bills. Prices range from £325,000 to £800,000. Call 01628 666367.
Framed and softened by a ring of trees, the scheme is hidden from National Ttrust visitors to the estate. The original mansion is now a luxury hotel.
Try the heart of Herts
The MoD's "married quarters" at Mostyn Road, Bushey, Herts, a commuter hotspot, go on sale as family homes at the weekend. The houses are plain in character but come with a price discount to £500,000, to compensate for their not-terrific looks. These refurbished Fifties homes have garages, big gardens and are set in a leafy backwater close to the town centre. Previous releases of similar homes have seen buyers queuing overnight.
Developer Annington Homes acquired a portfolio of such properties from the MoD in 1996. It has sold 15,500 to date and is also building new ones. Sometimes the older homes are "enhanced" with porches and landscaping. In general, the houses (with up to four bedrooms) are spacious and much cheaper than equivalent-size new builds nearby. Call 020 8954 6111 or visit annington.co.uk.
Several hundred more homes are for sale at other Annington sites. Armed Forces personnel (current and former) qualify for price discounts.
Elsewhere, ex-servicemen and women can take advantage of the new FirstBuy initiative, which offers an interest-free loan of up to 20 per cent of the purchase price. Barratt has set up an Armed Forces hotline, on 0844 8156196, for those interested in buying at one of its London developments. It offers £500 in furniture vouchers for every £25,000 spent on a home.
At St Andrews, Bow, apartments are priced from £215,000. Using the interest-free loan, buyers normally have to put down only a five per cent deposit.