LONDON: Eco World International Bhd's (EWI) Build-to-Rent (BtR) projects throughout London, which caters to the working class rental market, are progressing well as the uncertainties of Brexit plague sales of high-end real estate.
For the past year, London house prices have been declining as Brexit uncertainties continues to overshadow the capital’s moribund property market.
Brexit is an abbreviation for "British exit," referring to the UK's decision in the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union. The UK's newly-elected Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to deliver on his Brexit commitment by October 31, 2019.
EWI executive vice chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee, in acknowledging Brexit uncertainties may have caused some people to delay buying houses, noted the expanding working class of London still need good quality apartments to live in.
Liew assured reporters that London's rental market have, so far, held steady and EWI's BtR projects are meeting investors expectations.
In fact, today EWI's 70 per cent-owned subsidiary EcoWorld London went ahead to launch its second block of Verdo-Kew Bridge apartments at Brentford.
The apartments have built-up sizes ranging from 550 to 1,000 sq ft. Priced at around £750 per sq ft on average, the units are targeted to be completed in 2022.
With a total gross development value of about £593 million, this project involved the redevelopment of the Brentford Football Club Stadium, erection of considerable commercial spaces and more than 1,000 units of Verdo-Kew Bridge apartments. Out of this total, 487 units have been sold to Invesco Real Estate, in December 2018, under the BtR scheme.
Apart from Kew Bridge, EcoWorld London is also carrying out property development at Millbrook Park, Aberfeldy Village, Kensal Rise, Nantly House and Barking Wharf.
Separately, EWI's 75 per cent-owned subsidiary EcoWorld-Ballymore is developing £2.2 billion worth of luxurious residential projects across three sites fronting the Thames River in London.
These high-end residentials are Wardian London overlooking the Canary Wharf, phase two of London City Island on the Leamouth Peninsula and phase two of Embassy Gardens in Nine Elms.
One of Embassy Gardens’ unique selling points is its Sky Pool, touted as the world’s first ‘floating’ swimming pool. This glass-bottomed pool will span across the Legacy Buildings in the Embassy Gardens development.
Once installed, the 25-metre long pool will allow its residents to swim and glide between the buildings, 10 storeys up in the air. This transparent pool will be three meters deep with a water depth of 1.2 meters, and will be constructed with the help of aquarium designers using 20-cm-thick glass.
"My vision for the sky pool stemmed from a desire to push the boundaries in the capability of construction and engineering,” Ballymore Group chairman and group chief executive Sean Mulryan had reportedly said.
“I want to do something that has never been done before. The experience of this pool will be truly unique, it will feel like floating through the air in Central London," he was quoted to have said.
Today, EcoWorld-Ballymore held a topping out ceremony at the £566 million Wardian London, overlooking the famous financial district of Canary Wharf.
Also present were EWI chairman Tan Sri Azlan Mohd Zainol, EWI president and chief executive officer Datuk Teow Leong Seng and fellow directors Cheah Tek Kuang, Datuk Siow Kim Lun and Pauline Wong Wan Voon.
The Wardian London is designed with the botanical theme of the traditional 'Wardian Case’ invented by Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, mainly used to transport exotic plants across oceans.
With the invention of the Wardian Case in the olden days, London’s botanists had been able to study tea from China, rubber from Brazil and oil palms from as far afield as West Africa.
So, each Wardian London's apartment will have its own extensive ‘sky garden’ balcony while the carpeting at common areas will spot fern and palm leaf patterns.
This botanical theme will also be reflected in the lobby where expansive columns intertwine with exotic foliage to create an overall effect of an urban sanctuary. A 25-metre swimming pool, amid lush greenery, will serve as a much-needed oasis for its residents.
The Wardian London is made up of two residential towers of 55 and 50-storeys offering 766 homes including suites, one and two-bedroom apartments (with built up area ranging 500 to 1,100 sq ft) and penthouses (with built up area ranging 1,600 to 1,800 sq ft).
Priced at about £1,200 per sq ft on average, these residentials at Wardian London are slated to be handed over to owners in 2020.
"I am delighted to be able to celebrate with my partners today the topping-out of Wardian London. It is a momentous occasion for EcoWorld-Ballymore," Liew said at the ceremony.
Ballymore’s Mulryan, who was present at the event, said the team had engaged Glenn Howells Architects to create living quarters that are beautiful on the inside and out.
“Ballymore has owned the site on which Wardian now stands for 25 years. So, it brings me great joy to see these two beautiful new towers standing on what has been such an underutilised space for so long," said Mulryan.