We have heard a lot about the revitalisation of London's East End for the London 2012 Olympics, but now Westminster Council has revealed a plan to spend £9 million on revitalising the West End, which is already one of the capital's great tourist attractions.
Not good enough though apparently, as the money will go towards things like planting trees, upgrading street lights and replacing existing tarmac with shiny new pavements. No doubt we can expect a few pedestrian areas as well, as is becoming the norm for inner city infrastructural improvements.
We shouldn't knock it though, not least because we are not paying for it. Rather than put a further burden on the already beleaguered taxpayer (come bank-backer extraordinaire as we all have) the works are to be financed by Transport for London, Grosvenor and Land Securities.
The new works come as Project Soho draws to a close. For the last 8 years the council, with the help of the Met Police has been closing down illegal sex shops and other unsavoury parts of London life in famous Soho, which is of course famous for all the wrong reasons. If the new trees are a facelift, then Project Soho was liposuction and a tummy tuck.
For those that don't know, much more than £9 million has been spent on East London, which is of course due to be the main host of the world's most revered sporting event. This has given birth to many property investment opportunities, not least buy to let investments in areas where property is still available at very reasonable prices.
However, the hope is that the West End facelift will create a nicer atmosphere for the estimated 1 million additional people per day who will visit the area during the Olympics, and that this increased ambience will make them spend more money in its beleaguered retailers.
If Bradford is anything to go by, any urban revitalisation has the potential to spawn growth, and investors will likely be on the lookout for reasonably priced retail investment opportunities in the west end to make a killing during the Olympics. The keenest eye will no doubt be on finding an exit strategy when all those Olympics goers are gone.
- Friday 27 January 2012