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International Luxury Residences

Seaport's 150 Seaport Boulevard to be the St. Regis Residences, Boston. Billowy 22-story tower will have 114 luxury condos.

By Tom Acitelli, Curbed Boston

Rendering courtesy of Cronin Development

The famously billowy condo tower planned for 150 Seaport Boulevard, on the Seaport District sites of the Whiskey Priest and the Atlantic Beer Garden, will open as an outpost of the St. Regis luxury brand, according to developer Cronin Development.

The firm reached a licensing deal with Marriott International, which is not itself involved in the development. 

The tower is due to have 114 condos and to reach to 22 stories. A groundbreaking is expected this fall, with an opening scheduled for late 2020. 

Such an opening will cap a long time of back-and-forth on the plans. The Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental group, agreed in January to drop a lawsuit against the project in exchange for $13.1 million in funding for a waterfront park, a public dock, and children’s programming.

The group had opposed Cronin’s (very expensive) plans on zoning grounds because of concerns about public access to the waterfront.

As it stands now, the future condos will come with access to a suite of St. Regis-branded luxury services, including concierge and butler service, and to amenities such as a swimming pool, a spa, a health club, a library, and what the developer is calling a golf-simulation room. 

Then there’s the design of the building itself, courtesy of the late Howard Elkus of Elkus Manfredi. It is meant to evoke a billowy sail. 

Stay tuned for sales (the other kind). Those are expected to launch in the fall.

Luxury Homes in London With Ties to the Titanic

By Ruth Bloomfield of The WSJ

The former London offices of the White Star Line—famous for the RMS Titanic—have been converted into seven luxury residences priced up to about $27.5 million

Oceanic House, built in 1907.  PHOTO: JASON ALDEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

On April 10, 1912, the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton to New York. To book their passage, many of its wealthy seagoing passengers ascended the stone steps of Oceanic House, headquarters of the White Star Line in London.

The Titanic calamity spelled a long, slow death for the White Star Line, and Oceanic House, lavishly built in 1907, fell into decline. But now, after a circa $35 million restoration, the 33,000-square-foot building has been converted into seven luxury residences priced up to about $27.5 million.

When London-based Misland Capital bought Oceanic House in 2012 for around $28 million, the building, located in the St. James neighborhood of London’s West End, was in a sorry state. After being sold by the White Star Line it was sold on to a bank, the British government and eventually to a kitschy Tex-Mex restaurant.

“It was tired, with decrepit ceiling tiles and a dormer added in the 1960s,” said Peter Rochow, director of Misland Capital, a firm that manages the assets of British businessman Peter Green and family, who have substantial property holdings in London. “Some of the windows were broken, and it was generally very neglected.”

The biggest structural challenge of the renovation was to remove the ugly dormer and rebuild it, using Welsh slate tiles to clad the roof and Portland stone to recreate its original decorative pediment.

The dining room in the penthouse.  PHOTO: JASON ALDEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

This space now holds the penthouse’s open-plan living room and dining room, divided by a double-sided fireplace, with views of the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben from one of its two terraces.

“You will not need a clock in this apartment, that’s for sure,” said Simon Fernandes, a partner at Strutt & Parker, the apartments’ joint selling agent along with Beauchamp Estates.

The decor is simple: dark timber floors and a monochrome color scheme enlivened by touches of a rich, deep blue—a nod to the ocean. The Poggenpohl kitchen has a mix of taupe gloss and charcoal cabinets. There is also a study and second living room. The property comes furnished right down to spaghetti waiting to be boiled on the cooktop.

The penthouse’s lower floor, accessed by a black polished plaster stairwell, has four bedroom suites, some with original porthole windows. Wood paneling is a constant theme, a subtle nod to the décor of Titanic’s first-class cabins, but interior designers Morpheus London have kept overt nautical references firmly in check.

The penthouse bedroom has a porthole-shaped window.

The penthouse bedroom has a porthole-shaped window.  PHOTO: JASON ALDEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

This 5,496-square-foot penthouse is listed for about $27.5 million, while apartments—in rooms where the White Star Line’s clerks would once have had their offices—start at $6.1 million for a 1,604-square-foot, two-bedroom property. One of the seven apartments has already been sold to a German-American couple.

In the seven weeks since they formally went on sale, Mr. Fernandes said second-home buyers from China, South Africa, North America, and Europe, as well as British buyers looking to downsize from country houses, had expressed interest in Oceanic House.

In terms of its location, St. James’ sits on the fringes of prime central London and lacks the cachet of, say, Mayfair or Knightsbridge. However Mr. Fernandes pointed that Oceanic House, seconds from Trafalgar Square, has an average price of $4,200 per square foot. In prime central London average prices are typically between $5,600 and $9,800 per square foot.

Prime London prices have taken a Brexit-related hit since 2014, with average falls of around 7%, according to estate agent Knight Frank.

But Mr. Rochow is resting his faith in the building’s unique history, the quality of its design, plus the weakness of the pound. “We are confident, but we know we are not in the same market we were in in 2014,” he said. “We are going to have to work a little bit harder.”