Having tasted success with redeveloping an iconic building in the United Kingdom, the Old War Office (OWO), the Hinduja group has created a new business vertical to undertake similar development projects in different parts of the world.
“Our development company Westminster Development Services will be our twelfth vertical of the group. Now we are already looking at three other historical buildings. We have the team, we have the experience, we know the processes and have the confidence of financial institutions to undertake such projects,” Gopichand P Hinduja, Co-Chairman, Hinduja Group told BusinessLine.
When asked if the company would be looking at Indian sites, Hinduja said “If we get an opportunity in India we will be more than happy.”
Land banks available
He explained that as part of the group’s focus on real estate in India, it will develop land parcels in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Chennai. “We have huge land banks in India. We are doing a 2 million sq ft property in Bengaluru and three more such projects are being planned in the same area. In Hyderabad, we have 700 acres. This has now become a vertical for us,” Hinduja said.
Hinduja said there is a huge demand for residential apartments from high net worth individuals from across the world. “There is a queue of buyers. We have got interest even from Bollywood actors. We are doing proper KYC before selling these uniquely created apartments,” Hinduja said.
Situated at one of London’s most historically important and powerful addresses, the Old War Office, originally completed in 1906 and designed by British architect William Young, is steeped in history. Formerly the site of the original Palace of Whitehall, home to Henry VIII and other monarchs, the building has witnessed world-shaping events whilst influential political and military leaders including Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George held office.
The OWO has now been redeveloped into a 125-room luxury hotel and 85 branded residences with an investment of £1.2 billion by the Hinduja group. “ We want to leave it as a legacy for the Hinduja family and our commitment to the UK,” Hinduja said.
“The biggest challenges were to get the right contractors and best designer. We wanted to make it a destination for visitors. The planning itself was a gigantic one. Even the acquisition of the property was a challenge because we were competing with big global players with money,” Hinduja said. Finally, it was the group’s experience in acquiring and redeveloping the mansion at Carlton House Terrace, in the heart of London’s Westminster neighbourhood near Buckingham Palace, that got them the OWO project.
“For the hotel, we wanted to bring a brand which has never been in London. We wanted to bring the best spa, the best restaurants that are not currently in London. It was not easy to get these permissions. We had to convince them that we are not going to destroy the historical facets of the property,” Hinduja said.
The OWO also has Indian tradition and culture entwined into the plan. “One of the restaurants is going to be strict vegetarian,” said Hinduja.