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Historic West End hotel given £300m art deco revamp to offer high-spec leisure space

Ugg, Wolsey and Al Gore’s green investment bank among companies joining Prince Regent Hotel development

The Queen’s property company is putting the finishing touches to a £300m project to restore one of the most historic buildings in central London.

High streets up and down the country may be scarred by empty shops, but in the capital, the crown estate is painstakingly recreating two 1930s art deco restaurants as the crowning glory of its refurbishment of the Regent Palace Hotel just off Piccadilly Circus.

“It’s designed to look deliberately plain,” says a representative of the crown estate. “So that you get a surprise when you open the door.”

The former Atlantic Bar and Grill restaurant has been lovingly pieced back together, with each block of parquet floor numbered and replaced by hand. In Dick’s bar next door refurbishers discovered that the wood-panelled walls, which at first appeared to be all one colour, were actually mahogany and oak, stained by years of cigar smoke.

This summer Jeremy King, the man behind celebrity hangouts The Wolseley, Le Caprice and The Ivy, will reopen the space as a Parisian-style grand cafe called Brasserie Zedel.

Upstairs, on the ground floor, the building will host shoemaker Ugg’s flagship London store, a Whole Foods Market, US designer bag maker Jack Spade and knitwear brand Wolsey.

“We are really excited to be opening our first permanent London store here,” said Fergus Patterson, chief executive of the 257-year-old clothing company. “We see it as a great location in a really exciting development. We were really impressed with the tenant mix, the buzz that will come from the food offer nearby and the proximity to the best shopping street in London.”

Above the shops there is 200,000 sq ft of office space spread across seven floors. The top floor has been leased to Al Gore’s bn green investment bank. Gore, who personally selected the development called Quadrant 3, said: “We are very pleased to be able to continue our partnership with the crown estate, whose emphasis on sustainability is fully aligned with our own values and investment philosophy.”

Telefónica, the Spanish owner of O2, will take over the fourth and fifth floors as the headquarters of its global digital business.

The crown estate, which has been managing the royal property portfolio on behalf of the Treasury since 1760, said it has been able to secure high-profile tenants because of the paucity of new high-spec office space in the West End. “We pushed the button on this two weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed,” a crown estate representative said. “No one else has built anything so now there’s a lot of demand for what we’re offering.”

One of the corners of the building, which retain their original clay tile facades, has been converted into nine apartments, which have all been pre-let despite rents of £800-£1,400 a week.

Deliveries to the site will be taken into a service area via a sliding door, that the crown estate claims closes within nine seconds (faster than some prison yard doors) to spare residents and visitors from having to look at unsightly rubbish and recycling.

From there, an underground passage links to the crown estate’s other project: revamping Oscar Wilde’s former haunt, the Royal Café, into a 160-bedroom five-star hotel. The Regent Street hotel, which is already taking bookings for the London Olympics, has been leased to Israel-based Alrov Group in a 125-year, £90m deal. Both developments are part of the Crown Estate’s £1bn revamp of Regent Street. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds