Portland Mews

Portland Mews, Soho

Portland Mews is a courtyard in the heart of Soho, a few hundred metres from the bustle of Oxford Street but very different in character, this particular part of the district being typified by narrow streets with independent shops and cafes at street level and upper parts often home to small companies in the film and music industries.

The buildings in Portland Mews were built in the 19th century as warehouses for the nearby Berwick Street market but have long since been converted to loft style offices.  Our client is a property trust and owns 4 of the 6 buildings in the mews.  Each is a small 2/3 storey building with average floorspace of approx. 200m² .

Our role here is as asset managers with the objective of maximising the performance of this investment, primarily by means of refurbishment and lease transactions.

When we were first involved with the property in 2010, two of the four buildings were in the process of being newly let and the other two were part way through their lease terms to media and film company tenants.  It soon became apparent that one of these second two buildings had some potential for some restructuring of the investment, both in terms of the tenancies and also physically in that the building fabric had deteriorated over the years. Added to this there was scope to improve the attractiveness of the property by removing internal walls to open up the spaces and combining the two previously self-contained floors into one self-contained building.

Several tenant negotiations ensued over the next year, including a difficult period when one of the tenants went into administration, but we eventually secured vacant possession of the whole building and embarked on an extensive refurbishment.

We instructed and worked closely with the client’s building surveyors, John Foreman & Partners, on this project. They designed, specified and project managed this high quality refurbishment following discussions with ourselves and appointed marketing agents, Soho office agency specialists Monmouth Dean.  This pre-project discussion was essential to ensure the finished project was in line with market expectations and the project culminated with the letting, before the works had finished, to film company Knucklehead Films who were relocating from nearby offices in Soho.

Shortly after completing the letting of this building an opportunity arose to carry out similar asset improvement works on the adjoining building.  Unexpectedly, the tenant exercised a break option and the client was left with an empty building. Again, we worked closely with John Foreman & Partners and Monmouth Dean to restore the fabric of the building, renew the services and re-model the interiors.  Again, the building was let long before completion, this time to film company Baby Cow Productions.

In each of these cases, we brought about the conversion of a well located but somewhat under-performing asset with neglected buildings and uncertain tenancy profiles into an investment which realises the potential of its highly desirable location.