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UAE’s Sager Group puts its stamp on Royal Mail HQ project in London

Sager Group, a London developer cofounded by the UAE’s Sheikh Sagir bin Mohammed, has unveiled plans to transform London’s Royal Mail headquarters into a £400 million (Dh2.21 billion) mixed-use project known as Islington Square.

The 500,000 square feet site in Islington will be opened up with a new public boulevard created.

The redeveloped site will be made up of four buildings containing serviced apartments, retail, leisure and residential space.

One of the buildings, 8 Esther Anne Place, involves the restoration of an Edwardian building and at 17 Esther Anne Place the Edwardian facade will be retained, but a new basement and upper floors added.

A new building will be put in place at 11 Esther Anne Place and the former Mitre public house is being converted into apartments. In total, the project, which is being developed with the US firm Cain Hoy, will contain 263 private and affordable homes.

These will be one, two and three-bed properties ranging in price from £715,000 to £1.79m.

Sager Group bought Royal Mail’s former north London Sorting Centre site in 2003 for about £30m, but has since been piecing together other assets to assemble the site.

One of the final pieces of the jigsaw was put in place last year with the purchase of a site at Eagle Wharf Road, which has become Royal Mail’s new sorting centre.

Royal Mail had been operating at the site in Islington since 1904, and in its heyday there were more than 3,000 postal workers on the site as well as a refreshment club.

However, as more modern handling techniques have been incorporated, space requirements for handling post have shrunk.

Royal Mail vacated the site in September to allow for its redevelopment to begin.

The project is understood to be the biggest conversion of an Edwardian warehouse since the creation of Harrods Village at Barnes in south-west London in the 1990s.

“Islington Square is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new destination for London,” said Giris Rabinovitch, the chief executive of Sager Group.

“It sits in the heart of Islington, which is steeped in history and culture.” The sorting office is just one of a number of historic London sites that have been bought for redevelopment by UAE investors. Lulu Group bought Great Scotland Yard, which was the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police between 1829 and 1890, for £110m in July with a view to turning it into a boutique hotel.

Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) paid £370m for the Metropolitan Police’s current headquarters, New Scotland Yard, in December last year and its London development company, Northacre, is awaiting approval for its plans to redevelop the site.

Northacre is also handling ADFG’s transformation of the Grade II-listed former Palace Hotel, built in 1861, into One Palace Street – a collection of 71 super-prime apartments overlooking Buckingham Palace.

Speaking in Dubai last week, Niccolò Barattieri di San Pietro, the chief executive of Northacre, quoted an Arcadis report which said that London is set for £620bn of investment in infrastructure, commercial and residential property over the next 15 years.

“What London does incredibly well is marrying the old and the new, creating an incredibly vibrant place for people to live in,” he said.

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