Knightsbridge goes to Enfield

The development is in one of London's smartest areas , but the show home's in a grim corner. Cheryl Markosky reports on an interesting example of 21st-century marketing
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The Independent Online

So what's the hot new place to look at?

The Knightsbridge, with its tag line: "the most exclusive address in London".

Presumably it's in Knightsbridge?

Er, no. Actually, we're off to Enfield, in the suburbs of Essex.

Surely some mistake?

Well, while The Knightsbridge is under construction, just across the road from Knightsbridge barracks, there is no marketing suite. So, for four days only, minimalist designer Kelly Hoppen has kitted out a mock-up apartment in a large container in a warehouse in Enfield.

It doesn't sound the most salubrious spot for a marketing exercise?

As you approach the warehouse down Progress Way with potholes, probably not. But the developers, the Hong Kong-based real estate Cheng family, think it is worth spending around £250,000 building a Zen-harmony Hoppen apartment in the grotty East End Olympic Removals warehouse.

So buyers can have a nose round?

Nope. The faux apartment is for architects and estate agents to appreciate the double-height spaces and check that everything works. Also, a snapper will take photos for brochures, with scenes of Knightsbridge superimposed onto the plastic pretend windows. The marketing department remarks that "none of our clients would want to venture out to Enfield anyway".

Sounds like a waste of money to me.

Tony Chiu, director of the Knightsbridge Project Management, responsible for the Cheng family's projects over here and with Donald Trump in New York, doesn't think so. "We want to create an environment that gives a taste of what The Knightsbridge will be like. Never mind the cost. The whole exercise has been worth it."

Fair enough. But does it work?

It is pretty surreal arriving somewhere that resembles a Guy Ritchie tough-guy film location to view Turkish limestone floors and Hoppen's signature vases with twisted Thai grass thrust inside. The best bit is leaving her Scent One room fragrance to go to the loo in the warehouse, which possesses that uniquely stringent workmen's-urinal aroma.

What else is on show?

In a large storage container there is a pastiche of the actual corridor with hand-stitched carpet from designer Julian Reed of eaa International.

Was it worth the trip?

Yes, if only in terms of sheer ironic, postmodern madness. The craziest part of the experience has to be the lift, which has its own small crate next to Hoppen's perfect taupe-palette apartment layout. It has leather walls, screens with CNN and Reuters, hand-stitched carpet and make-believe buttons for the 11 floors and penthouses in Block A. The ultimate Wendy house for the, erm, upwardly mobile.

What's for sale then?

There are 205 units, including 198 apartments, seven mews houses and seven penthouses known as the "Crown Jewels in two blocks - one with 11 storeys and the second eight". Prices start at £400,000 for one-bed apartments and go up to £18 million for the 8,000 square foot six-bed penthouses.

Sounds a bit steep.

It is a bit on the pricey side, but the developer argues location, location, location. And you do get high-spec designer "extras" like well-crafted cherry-wood wardrobes, power showers with jets, great chrome door handles and air-conditioning. Even the air will be filtered every two hours. Useful, given the traffic jams in Knightsbridge. Might have been even more apt in Enfield.

Is anyone buying?

It is hard to say. The developers' policy is not to divulge how many units have shifted, which does make one a wee bit suspicious. But James Freear from FPDSavills, who is selling the apartments, says they have sold "way over 10 per cent. And we are not really marketing the place yet". Chiu adds: "We are well over our target at the moment ... it is a long sales process."

I bet it is. Anything else to entice me to part with my cash?

Chiu says: "You pay for a lot of things you don't see that provide the perfect physical environment for people." Along with the air-con and filtered air, the apartments can be wired for "home automation" where you can operate DVDs, music, close the curtains and even turn on the oven by remote control.

Go on...

Michael Gray, a former general manager of the Hyatt group, is providing six-star hotel services to residents. His motto: "We will never want to say no. Nothing is impossible - unless it is." His team will get you anything from tickets to the Grand Prix to caterers for a dinner party, as well as walk your dog and help with personal shopping.

Who will my neighbours be?

Kevin Spacey is rumoured to be looking to buy a pad here. Freear has been surprised how many younger buyers there are. "Most purchasers have more than one home, maybe three or four. There are locals enquiring as well, wanting to move out of their three-storey houses round the corner. They are sick of going up and down stairs and worrying about security."

I still think it would be easier to sell The Knightsbridge in Knightsbridge.

I would imagine so. No matter how creative you are, it is difficult to transfer the selling points of London's most prestigious postcode to EN1. But who knows. Maybe there is more kudos in the street-cred of Enfield these days, than in stuffy old Knightsbridge.

The Knightsbridge is marketed by FPDSavills and Jones Lang LaSalle, 020-7581 2323