The Estate also includes 160,000sq ft of office space, let to over 100 independent businesses, a five star hotel, 80 berth marina, car parking for 1,000 cars and 350 residential apartments. It was underperforming at the time of acquisition, but the Design Centre offered substantial opportunity to increase rents and fill vacant space in surrounding offices.
Originally built in 1987, the Design Centre’s potential had never been fully exploited by previous owners. Raising its profile by rebranding, remarketing and refurbishing would have a positive impact on all areas of the Estate.
One of the first steps was to appoint a CEO for the Design Centre to create a long-term marketing strategy and establish a team to implement this effectively. MARCOL identified one leading candidate for the role: Helen Fifield, the internationally renowned former publisher of House & Garden.
The next step was the design and implementation of a multi-million refurbishment, including the replacement of all internal surfaces and flooring, fitting glass balustrades throughout, refurbishing and repositioning the spiral staircases, installing an electronic way-finding system and opening Design Club: an exclusive private members’ club offering design professionals a base to work, rest or entertain clients. All work was carried out while the centre was open and fully operational.
The Design Centre began to publish its own bi-annual magazine and host the now internationally recognised annual events, London Design Week and Focus. Such activities have enabled it to attract and secure much higher profile tenants.
Described by Vogue as a ‘treasure trove’, the Evening Standard as ‘unfailingly fabulous’ and House & Garden as ‘Europe’s flagship for design and decoration’, the Design Centre’s new status has led to a waiting list of prospective tenants. Rents have more than doubled since 2003 and an extension of approximately 75,000sq ft is planned to commence towards the end of 2014.
Helen commented: “There is real passion in how everything is done at MARCOL: this creates a dynamic and creative environment in which great ideas quickly become reality. Their regeneration of this space has created a Design Centre that is unrivalled worldwide.”
In 2010 Claire German took over the helm at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour. She came from her role as Publishing Director at House & Garden magazine and will drive forward the considerable success of the Design Centre, maintaining its position as one of the world’s leading design destinations.
Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, London
• Over 90% increase to overall value
• Gross rent roll increased by almost 50%
• Vacancy rate reduced from 23% to 1%