Shreen Gupta of GRID Properties talks to Housebuilder & Developer’s Jack Wooler about their luxury development with Marriott International in Chelsea which serves up a meticulously detailed, high-spec offer.
In August 2022, developer GRID Properties (part of global financial services firm Gulf Islamic Investments), announced the first fruits of what it says is a “unique collaboration” with Marriott International, the leading global hotel brand.
The Lucan is the result – the new scheme of Autograph Collection Residences in Chelsea, and which has already come to market via Savills and Strutt & Parker. The development comprises 31 luxurious one, two and three bedroom homes, “designed exclusively” by fashion/interior design label Rive Gauche and with impressive dimensions ranging from 780 ft2-1900 ft2.
Off the celebrated Sloane Avenue in Chelsea – with all the amenities that the area has to offer – the site, which originally housed Chelsea Police station – has been a major influence on the design of the new homes. They have been created to reference the architectural culture and character of Chelsea, alongside “unique finishes emblematic of a Marriott International Autograph Collection Hotel,” said the developers.
The link between the two companies goes beyond aesthetics – The Lucan will also be managed by Marriott itself, and offer hotel-style services to residents. These include a 24-hour concierge, a state of the art gym, porter services, and “extensive á la carte services,” including housekeeping and maintenance.
The seven-floor development is projected to complete in 2024, and a marketing suite will be available soon to meet customers.
The site was acquired by Gulf Islamic Investments five years ago, with the firm considering several potential solutions for the development. They were keen to ensure that the result was right for the location, authentic to their vision, and right for the brand and community.
“We decided to manage the development through GRID properties, our own property business,” explains Shreen Gupta, CEO, because it has a “strong focus on quality and collaboration.”
According to Gupta, Gulf Islamic Investments initially had a vision to create “a whole new way of living in London,” intended to encapsulate the most desirable luxury services within the privacy of their own homes.
“As a company,” he says, “Gulf Islamic Investments strives for investment opportunities that reflect their tangible core values: global reach, diverse opportunities, trusted expertise, and bespoke solutions.”
As such, Gupta says the developer saw the chance to focus on these attributes when the opportunity arose to develop The Lucan. Their aim from the start was to match the “thriving community meets timeless appeal” character of Chelsea, designing the properties to echo the style of a traditional Chelsea mansion house, updated with modernised aspects for 21st century living.
“This development will enhance that already-persuasive mix,” he says. “We combine exceptional quality of life with the highest international benchmarks for luxury real estate, bringing long-term value for residents
and shareholders alike.”
A SENSITIVE PLAN
The Lucan is located in the affluent Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – benefitting from its transport connections and its position as one of the capital’s most highly-regarded retail hubs. Due to its busy location, a thorough, sensitive construction management plan was necessary to minimise traffic concerns in the surrounding area, in addition to an essential focus on a visual coherence with the area.
“As with any development, engaging with local stakeholders, planners and the local authority is critical, and we believe that we have achieved this aim,” says Gupta. “We were also keen to ensure that the development relates to its surroundings – hence our intricately detailed design of a traditional Chelsea mansion block.”
Alongside the homes, the developer is also committed to delivering social and community uses within its development, which will be designed with nursery provider Kido (formerly Safari Kids) and specialist education and care provider, Mom’s Belief, both of which will occupy the property at a subsidised rent.
Working closely with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and the other stakeholders to bring the vision to life, planning permission was granted in winter 2019, with demolition works commencing in March 2020. Forward funding was granted from London Wall Company in December 2021, and construction now well underway.
THE BEST INTENTIONS
Gupta tells me that, as a company, GRID Properties looks to only collaborate with “best-in-class experts.” This was demonstrated at their previous development – the ELIE SAAB Residences at Hyde Park launched in March this year. He explains how The Lucan adopts the expertise gathered on this project, with Marriott International “fusing world-class customer service and amenities with the signature hallmarks of the Autograph Collection Hotels brand.”
Continuing this trend in the construction and design of the building, the firm engaged with international architectural practice Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) to design the project, alongside luxury interiors studio Rive Gauche for the interiors.
According to Gupta, the architects’ brief was to take the “very best elements” of Chelsea’s historic architecture, and combine it with contemporary design to create “some of the best residences available today not only in Chelsea, but across London.”
A UNIQUE APPROACH
Approaching the new building, contemporary bay windows have been specified to provide “a unique appearance from the street,” while also bringing good levels of natural light into the interiors. On the lower floors, coloured terracotta will frame the windows and doors, “providing a richness and texture,” as well as referencing local detail found in the nearby Grade II listed Michelin House.
Heading inside, unique entrances will feature bespoke artwork by local artist Jodie Carey, alongside individually cast tiles which form a patchwork effect. This symbolises community, and the coming together of different people, cultures and ideas, which echoes the character of London more generally.
Gupta explains that comfort and light are paramount here, with bespoke elements “woven into the vernacular space of the lobby ‘The Luminary’”, casting light on the marble floor, polished wall panelling, and tones of gold brass and cream – “the chandelier inviting people into its warmth and illumination.”
Beneath this grand lighting, the lobby will also feature a 24/7 concierge and residential manager employed by Marriott International. “whether it be housekeeping or travel, a nanny, personal training or dog walking, florist services or a chauffeur,” as well as arranging exclusive experiences, such as private dining with a top London chef or a personal design/shopping service.
The lobby then leads onto the elevators – some of which are private to selected residences – that can take residents to their homes, 24/7 valet parking in an underground private space, or the gym. The latter features calming tones of timber and limestone surrounding state-of-the-art equipment.
A GRAND LIFE
Much like the exterior, inside the apartments the interior design continues to follow the inspiration of the architecture, materiality and detailing of the renowned area. “We created a modern, elegant, and subtle interior by layering beautiful finishes, such as handcrafted textural materials, with true attention to detail and a natural oak floor,” explains Gupta.
“The material palette showcases neutral tones, bringing in rich earthy reds and greens as colour accents across the architectural elements and soft furnishings,” he continues. “Vertical elements were implemented throughout to add height and grandeur to the spaces, and lighting was carefully considered to produce the feeling of natural light.”
Similarly opulent, the kitchens will offer stone worktops with bronze and mirrored splashbacks, alongside other detailing such as handpicked, ornate door handles.
Each master suite will also offer a spacious walk-in wardrobe, while ensuite bathrooms will feature underfloor heating, ornate patterns and marble mosaic floors, with buyers also having the ability to select bespoke finishes throughout from the developer’s atelier.
WHAT LUXURY MEANS
Gupta says the level of specification achieved sets the apartments apart from other luxury properties. “The word ‘luxury’ is used too easily; it can just simply be an excuse for ‘expensive’. We decided that for buyers who want true luxury living, every detail needs to be considered and catered for.”
“The location goes without saying – on Chelsea’s doorstep, with all that the borough has to offer,” he says, but the architecture takes it up a notch. “Mirroring a traditional Chelsea Mansion block, the ceiling-to-floor windows admit light from all angles, illuminating materials of the highest specification, as well as the large and interesting floorplates.”
Gupta adds: “For the service and the amenities, we teamed up with Marriott not simply to provide club membership benefits, but to manage the residences themselves actively with the superlative customer experience for which they are known.” He says that an “even more luxury á la carte menu of enhanced experiences and services is available,” including private chefs, nannies and personal styling. “That is truly luxurious living.”
INNOVATION WITH PURPOSE
With the construction process now well underway, Gupta also considers the environmental performance of the building, which is intended to match the high specification of the rest of the project.
“We at GII believe in ‘innovation with a purpose’ and sustainability, which are core principles of our investment philosophy and a requirement of any Shariah-compliant financial partnership, where both profits and risks are shared,” he says.
He believes that the Chelsea development is the “perfect embodiment of these values,” with the firm seeking to install highly efficient air source heat pumps for heat, hot water and cooling, and MVHR units for ventilation, and to minimise heat loss.
Beyond this, he expects that the facade’s solidity will provide good U-values for thermal comfort and energy efficiency. “Through a combination of fabric and building services efficiency measures, we aim to reduce carbon emissions significantly against Part L building regulations, and are minimising material consumption to reduce embodied carbon,” he continues.
“Aside from aspirations to get as close to ‘net zero’ as possible, we are also considering our social impact carefully, and are providing subsidised social and community uses for our development, in partnership with specialist education/care and nursery providers at the property.”
THE BEST OF ALL WORLDS
According to Gupta, the reaction to the project has already been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“Within a week,” he says, “we served a quarter of the whole development – such is their uniqueness and appeal to buyers who want the prestige of owning a beautiful part of Chelsea, combined with the comforts of home and the convenience of a plethora of services and amenities at hand.”
He believes that, with the UK having seen a blending of the high-end residential and hotel sector for some time now, prime residential schemes like this must reflect the value of amenity and concierge-style services, arguing this is no small part of the project’s success.
“Today’s discerning buyers have ever-increasing expectations from genuinely luxury developments. They want the best of all worlds – a place to call home, but with the service and amenities that they would expect from a luxury hotel.”
He concludes: “We are becoming known in the UK market for our quality and unique residential offers. After ELIE SAAB Residences at Hyde Park earlier this year, this collaboration further cements our ability to collaborate effectively with prestigious global brands to offer customers luxurious, quality central London homes.”
“We believe that this will start a myriad of similar ventures across the capital and beyond, as developers and homeowners alike recognise the need for sublime residential property and convenient hospitality to be aligned