Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Sellers, Roger Moore, Orson Welles – there aren’t many London apartments which can boast such stellar alumni. But Caxton Hall is not any London flat.
It was the preferred registry office for the great and the good just after the Second World War. Other claims to fame include being the place where the suffragettes would hold a “Women’s Parliament” at the beginning of each Parliament session, before marching on Westminster to give the Prime Minister their petition. Winston Churchill also held many press briefings here during the war and there is a blue plaque to commemorate this.
However in 1979 it was left derelict, and was put on the ‘buildings at risk’ list. We became involved in its renovations in 2006. It was a listed building with stained glass, statues and an impressive wooden staircase, which all had to be maintained.
What we did
We worked very closely with the developer who bought this site from the council. The property had been empty and neglected for several decades so it needed extensive refurbishment. As the building is listed, this all took place under the watchful eye of the local authority.
Whilst the painstaking renovations took place, we located ten buyers for the 11 flats. The original high floors and ceilings were kept, which gives these flats their unique sense of space. Once the conversion was completed, we organised a furnishing package for each apartment and then they were put on the rental market. We now maintain them for our clients; sourcing tenants when necessary and ensuring they are well kept.
How we did it
Caxton Hall was brought to us by a developer who wanted us to buy off-plan. At that point it was still a wreck, but even in this rundown state we could see the potential if we returned the building to its former glory.
We found 10 clients who were very interested in buying 11 flats, so we arranged finance for the project. Our clients paid the first 10% deposit on exchange of the contracts.
Building work began. We appointed a quantity surveyor to create detailed quarterly reports that kept clients updated on the project’ s progress.
The original plans changed significantly throughout the build due to the building’s listed status, and the developers had to redesign accordingly. The historic main wooden staircase had to be exactly replicated, as did a stained glass window. The slate of the roof had to be sourced from the original slate pit in Scotland.
The construction was completed, but there was still work to be done. A furnishing package was put together, costing on average £12,000 for each flat.
The flats were put on the market, but due to a temporary downturn in the rental market it took three months to rent them all out. However, their occupancy rate has averaged 93% per annum ever since. The building has proved to be very popular, partly due to its historic associations and partly due to its incredible location.
For a long time none of our clients wanted to sell any of these flats. It’ s a real trophy building and everyone loved living in it. Finally, 18 months ago one of our clients decided to rationalise and sell her flat. We immediately found another buyer (another of our clients) who paid £865,000 for a flat that had originally cost £320,000.
We continue to manage and rent these flats out for our clients, according to their wishes.
Caxton Hall was in a state of disrepair when we got involved, but it had enormous potential. Not only is Westminster a prime location in the heart of London, but also the building itself is listed and steeped in history. By managing the entire process and calling on our trusted network of accountants, solicitors, quantity surveyors and interior designers, we were able to see this potential turned into profit.
With a 93% occupancy rate since being put on the market, these beautifully furnished flats have kept both tenants and clients very happy.