A joint venture between developers Union Hanover Securities and Southern Grove has acquired a 75,000 sq ft office building, Black Lion House, E1 from CIT for conversion to the flagship of its innovative hotel concept Urban Villa.
Topland Group, headed by Sol Zakay provided the senior debt for the £16m acquisition. The details of the deal were not disclosed but it is understood that Topland provided the loan on a 76% loan-to-value basis whilst BridgePoint Ventures and EquityBridge Asset Management arranged the balance of the required funding. Andrew Southern chief executive officer of Southern Grove said: “We were very pleased with what Topland offered, not just the higher gearing. They instantly got our business model and were fast and responsive to our needs. They delivered.” The JV has plans for an ambitious roll out of design led ‘extended stay’ hotels across the UK. Extended stay is one of the fastest sectors of growth in the US and Asian hotel markets, which is based on flexible hotel rooms with self-catering facilities, which are attractive to corporate residents during the week and leisure guests at weekends. The hybrid of serviced apartments and hotel tends to have lower overheads and longer occupancy and thus delivers higher margins. The JV has appointed a design team of New York-based architect Grzywinski+Pons and hotel specialist Dexter Moren Associates to create a Manhattan feel boutique 220-bed hotel on the site at 45 Whitechapel Road, just five minutes from the heart of the City. Union Hanover director Andrew Fowler said: “Urban Villa has two distinct design-led identities: edgy Manhattan Loft-style common areas and spacious four star luxury hotel rooms.” The Whitechapel hotel as well as boasting some spectacular roof terraces will have an independently operated roof top restaurant. The JV is currently seeking a restaurant operator and has also had some preliminary discussions with New York-based chefs. Eric Jafari of BridgePoint Ventures, said: “We believe that this project will have a significant impact on lifting the area and yet helping the area maintain its character and edge.