Westfield owner goes for build-to-rent in London

“This new residential quarter in the heart of Stratford City is an example of the group’s strategy to significantly increase the densification of exceptional and highly connected retail destinations by adding offices, residential, hotels and other uses, where relevant,” said Olivier Bossard, group chief development officer at Unibail.

Disposal program

Construction work is set to start in in the second quarter this year, with completion after 2023. The Cherry Park development will comprise 1200 new homes, along with a residents’ gym, swimming pool, workspace and high-quality public areas.

“Once completed, this will be one of central London’s largest residential rental schemes,” said Stéphane Jalbert, managing director in Europe and Asia Pacific for Real Estate at PSP Investments.

A similar strategy has been adopted in the local market by players such Vicinity Centres, led by Grant Kelley, which has embarked on a disposal program and an ambitious effort to extend and redevelop some of its retail real estate into $1 billion mixed use assets.

Scentre Group, the owner and manager of Westfield malls in Australia, and QIC Global Real Estate are also looking for exposure to the residential sector as retail landlords around the world confront headwinds in their sector.

A disappointing contribution from the former Westfield portfolio to the earnings of its new owner forced Unibail to flag an earnings retreat in 2019 of about 8 per cent lower than its 2018 result.

Following last year’s takeover the stock has traded on the local bourse through a Chess depositary instrument.

Unibail has also pressed the pause button on its £1.4 billion ($2.5 billion) project to open a third London mall in southern suburb Croydon, due to Brexit uncertainty and structural change in the retail sector.

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