Image from Google Street View
If you’ve been around Aldwych in the past couple of years, you can’t have failed to notice the prominent building site on its south-western corner. It’s a Foster building, and a rather handsome one at that. Or, at least, it would be if they ever get round to finishing it.
The foetal building is intended as a five-star, 79-apartment hotel, as part of the Silken hotel group. But Spanish developers Urvasco have fallen on hard times and called in the receivers. The luxury complex remains unfinished and may have been damaged after continued exposure to the elements.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, who are handling the administration, anticipate high demand for the prominent site. Property investors have apparently raised a war chest of billions to snap up capsized developments during the financial crises.
It would be a shame if this lingers on. The site is not only highly visible but also steeped in history. It’s previous incarnation was as the Marconi, later Citibank, Building from which the BBC made its first radio broadcast in 1922. Before that, the famous Gaiety Theatre stood here (London nerd note: you can still see some of the fittings from this long-vanished theatre at the Victoria pub in Lancaster Gate). Archaelogical investigations during the hotel construction also found the remains of an 18th Century public house on the site. The Evening Standard even went to the preposterous lengths of dubbing the area ‘The New Shoreditch’. In short, you could write a whole book about this small patch of London. We hope it does not remain fallow for long.