SA investors in deal to buy £100m Chelsea property from Jesuits

13 April 2017

London — Johnny Sandelson, the property entrepreneur developing a luxury-home project for seniors in London’s Chelsea district, is in talks to buy a £100m plot of land in Kensington from a Jesuits group, two people familiar with the plan said.

Sandelson and a group of South African investors have agreed on a deal to buy the 1.1ha King’s Gardens site from Jesuits in Britain, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deal was not yet complete. The developer was considering luxury retirement homes, private apartments and other commercial buildings for the plot, which is about 600m south of Kensington Palace, they said.

Spokespeople for Sandelson and broker CBRE Group, which is advising on the sale of the plot, declined to comment. Nobody from Jesuits in Britain was available for comment.

The UK faces a severe shortage of housing specifically targeted at older people, according to an October 2016 report published by broker Knight Frank. One in 12 people will be 80 years old or more by 2039, while just 3% of new homes planned or under construction are for elderly people, the report said. Those aged from 65 to 74 years now hold more wealth that the entire population aged under 45, a group more than twice their size, according to the Resolution Foundation, a non-partisan think tank.

Sandelson announced plans for Auriens, a luxury development in London’s Chelsea district with chauffeur service and a bar called Zimmer, last year. The project will open in 2019.

He founded GuestInvest, the hotel chain that allowed investors to buy and lease individual rooms, in 2003. The company, which was backed by HBOS, was placed into administration in 2008.

The King’s Gardens plot is next to Heythrop College, which helps educate aspiring Catholic priests. The college, which was originally founded in Belgium in 1614, is due to close in 2018 due to losses, a spokesperson told the London Evening Standard newspaper in September when it reported the plan to sell the site.

Residential land values in London’s best districts fell 11.5% in 2016, according to Knight Frank. The rate of decline slowed in the final quarter and there are early signs that some investors will soon return to the market in anticipation that prices are close to the bottom, the broker said.