Past glory returning to London roundhouse to give it a life in the future
Bryan Bicknell, CTV London
Published Tuesday, October 1, 2013 6:15PM EDT
A long dormant London landmark is being brought back to life. Plans have been announced to transform the former Great West Steak House building into an office complex for the city's emerging tech sector.
The project has developers looking to the past to embrace the future, with many of the building's original features being restored.
When it's finished it will house a pair of emerging technology companies, but it will look just like what it was originally built as, a 19th-century railway roundhouse.
If the building’s walls could talk they'd likely tell rich stories of bygone days, and now the future is the past as the local landmark is about to write a new chapter in the city’s history.
London Mayor Joe Fontana says “This is going to be the next place that you will want to live, that you will want to work in our city.”
Civic and business leaders were on hand as the wraps came off plans to return the former 1880s Great Western Railway roundhouse to its former glory.
The developer plans to transform the 7,700 square foot property into an office complex with a design that will preserve and restore heritage aspects, but be constructed and wired for the companies of tomorrow.
Patrick Ambrogio of Creative Property Developments says “That's what we like about this area and this place. It's a big part of where London came from and hopefully it'll be a big part of where London’s going.”
The building has been empty since 2006, so the announcement really bodes well for the SoHo neighbourhood. Where others may have seen ruin, it has taken young entrepreneurs to see new life in all this history.
Digital firms Atmos Marketing and rtraction have signed on as tenants, bringing the new economy to the old digs.
David Billson, president of rtraction, says “I think when you bring the new technology in with the old heritage spaces it creates a really magical space that our people are going to be excited to be in and our clients are going to be excited to see us in.”
The new design places the entrance at the rear, like when the building was used to service locomotives, the floor will be lowered by five feet to original specifications and the windows – long-covered - will be restored.
Heritage advocates like London historian Joe O’Neil are all aboard with excitement.
“It's great because one of the things we always talked about in the past was adaptive re-use. Reuse the building for anything you want, doesn't have to be the original purpose.”
The London Roundhouse Project is expected to be complete by early next year and while Ambrogio wouldn't say what they're spending on the project, he did say seven figures are involved.
So no doubt a huge investment in both money and confidence for the often maligned SoHo neighbourhood.