As a New York real estate mogul and high-end hotel owner, Donald Trump should be speaking from a position of experience when he calls the new US Embassy a ‘bad deal’.
The President claimed this morning on Twitter that the reason he cancelled his trip to London to open the new embassy is because ‘the Obama Administration sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal.’
At a cost of £750m ($1bn) the new embassy near Battersea is priced significantly higher than the £500m ($680m) it is thought the old embassy in Mayfair was sold for.
Shiny and new: The US government has spent £750m ($1bn) on building the new London embassy in Nine Elms near Battersea
Standing in London’s Grosvenor Square, it was bought by Qatari Diar – the property development arm of the Qatari royal family – for an undisclosed sum in 2009.
At the time, experts had valued the site at £500m.
However, shortly before the sale, the old embassy was given Grade II listed status, which may have reduced the value further as this would restrict any development.
The Qataris will now spend $1.4bn (£1.08bn) to refurbish the building and turn it into a five-star Rosewood hotel with 137 bedrooms.
Christian Warman, director of central London estate agency Tedworth Property, states that US may have ‘sold the family silver’ – but that they had sold high and bought low.
‘Grosvenor square is one of London’s finest addresses and the embassy was very prominent and hugely well connected to businesses and professionals who live and work in the area,’ Mr Warman told MailOnline.
Not happy: The US President claims the reason he cancelled his trip to London is because ‘the Obama Administration sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal’
Old gold: The Qatari royal family’s property arm bought the old US Embassy in Mayfair in 2009 and has now embarked on a $1.4bn (£1.08bn) refurbishment to turn it into a luxury hotel
Sorry Theresa: The President reportedly spoke to the Prime Minister as recently as last month and spoke about his upcoming trip
Officials have already moved into the £750million US embassy near Battersea Power Station in South London. The new building will open for business on January 16
‘However, the site is very small and the security around it required can be to people and traffic in the area.
‘The site they have bought is in one of London’s up and coming areas and they would’ve sold the embassy near the peak of the market in an area where prices had risen massively.
‘They would have bought the Nine Elms site a long time ago, so you can argue that they sold at the top and bought at the bottom.’
‘In terms of whether the Americans have sold the family silver; yes Mayfair is always going to be a prime hub of London, and right now Nine Elms isn’t, but it could become a very important business and residential area by end of the quarter. Not least as a result of the American embassy going there. ‘
‘It’s not unthinkable that Nine Elms will be considered prime central London in ten, 20 or 50 years, so you could argue that its a good deal for America.
‘It’s not a remote location by any means. It’s a new area of London, a new hub. It’s not a field in the middle of nowhere.’
The former US Embassy on Grosvenor Square in London’s Mayfair, which Mr Trump has described as ‘perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London’
New front: An artists impression of what the new five-star Rosewood hotel in the old embassy will look like
Update: The Grade II listed building will be turned into a 137-room luxury hotel, with development set to start later this year
The land the old embassy stands on land owned by the Duke of Westminster. It is one of the few US embassies not to stand on land owned by the US government.
The new US Embassy is a distinctive 12-storey, cube-shaped building, located between Vauxhall and Battersea in south-west London, and has been designed by Philadelphia architecture firm Kieran Timberlake.
The embassy website says that the project ‘has been funded entirely by the proceeds of the sale of other US Government properties in London, not through appropriated funds.’
Trump claimed the new embassy is in an ‘off location’. It is located within a 561-acre regeneration project set to transform one of the South Bank’s last remaining industrial stretches.
Despite Mr Trump publicly blaming predecessor Barack Obama (left), the US announced plans to move to the new site in October 2008 – when George W Bush (right) was in the White House
It includes an extension of London Underground’s Northern Line, with two new stations at Battersea and Nine Elms due to open in 2020.
Developers hope the area will become a thriving business hub, with Penguin Random House UK and Apple set to open offices south of the river, while the Royal College of Arts has submitted a planning application for a £50 million state-of-the-art building.
They hope the project will bring to the area thousands of new homes, 25,000 new jobs, green spaces and visitor attractions.
Currently, however, much of the area resembles a large construction site, with the skyline changing constantly as the developments progress.
Trump blamed his predecessor Barack Obama for selling the old embassy but the move was actually announced in October 2008 – when George W Bush was in the White House.
However, the sale went through in 2009, when Obama was in office.
Several London embassies have been sold off as private or commercial property in recent years,.
The Former European Council of Foreign Relations near St James’s Park was sold for £21.5million to Galliard Homes in 2013.
In the same year, the Canadian High Commission in Grosvenor Square, was sold by the Canadian government to an Indian property developer, and the Brazilian Embassy, also in Mayfair, went for £40million.