US Embassy Being Sold Despite UK Government Interference

  • 15 years ago
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The US government has secured a deal to sell its London Embassy despite the UK government’s intervention who placed the building under Grade II listing status. The listing means that property developers will now be heavily restricted in what they can do with the building.
Reports suggest that The US government has decided to sell probably their landmark Embassy building at 24 Grosvenor Square Mayfair London. The new owners are set to be Chelsfield Partners, a property investment company backed by the Qatar Investment Authority. The selling price is estimated to be £300 million ($500) to £400 million
The building which was constructed between 1957 and 1960 and has a bland out of date concrete design which is out of step with other more fashionable buildings in the most expensive part of London’s Mayfair. The deal for the developers would have been ideal as demolition of the huge concrete building would have created numerous high end luxury apartments in one of the most sort after areas in London.
Minister of Culture Margaret Hodge placed a Grade II listing status on the building preventing demolition which could have resulted in the construction of brand new luxury properties.
The UK minister for culture appreciated that Grade II status may have sent a negative message to the US government risking the so called Special Relationship
Margaret Hodge said”I should begin by assuring you that the Secretary of State is fully aware of the sensitivities of this decision in the context of the embassy’s possible move to a new location,” she wrote. An embassy spokesman said that while it opposed the listing, “we respect the decision.” He added: “This does not affect our ability or schedule to sell the building.”
The Grade II listing was a result of a little known society who put forward the building for preservation. The Twentieth Century Society, a conservation group that tries to go against the tendency of politicians to wave through the demolition of the large concrete-and-glass structures favoured by high-profile architects after World War II.
Catherine Croft, a director of the group, said she was “very pleased” by the listing, although she said that the modernist building, which was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, wasn’t necessarily appreciated by the public. “It’s an architectural masterpiece and an elegant addition to the square. I think that [buildings like these] will come back in fashion soon,”

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