UOL Group—controlled by banking and real estate billionaire Wee Cho Yaw—has completed the construction of a 43-story hotel and residential tower at the heart of London’s financial district, betting on a post-pandemic travel recovery.
One Bishopsgate Plaza is an integrated development comprising the 237-room Pan Pacific London hotel on the first 20 floors of the skyscraper, and the Sky Residences from the 21st to the 41st level. The property—which also includes Devonshire Row, a two-story heritage building of offices and retail shops—is strategically located next to the Liverpool Street station, providing quick access to Canary Wharf as well as the London City and Heathrow airports.
While the hospitality industry has been hit hard by travel restrictions that governments around the world enforced to curb the spread of Covid-19, increasing vaccination rates are expected to lead to the gradual reopening of international borders.
“The opening of the hotel will benefit from regional and domestic travel following the reopening of borders to allow safe travel,” Choe Peng Sum, CEO of UOL unit Pan Pacific Hotels Group, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The hotel—Pan Pacific’s first in the U.K.—offers five levels of amenities including a double-height ballroom that can host banquets for up to 370 guests. “The hotel’s interior blends elements of an English manor with Southeast Asia flair,” Choe said.
Part of the UOL Group, Pan Pacific owns and manages over 30 hotels, resorts and serviced apartments with more than 12,000 rooms across Asia, Oceania and North America, the Singapore-listed real estate company said in August when it announced its first-half results. It plans to add over 4,000 rooms from projects in the pipeline.
“One Bishopsgate Plaza is part of our vision to strategically cement the group’s presence in the U.K. and open new possibilities within the region in the coming years,” UOL chief executive Liam Wee Sin said in a statement.
UOL acquired the site of One Bishopsgate Plaza from British developer Heron International for 97 million pounds ($134 million) in 2014. The company, which also owns two other commercial buildings in central London, declined to disclose the total investment in the project.
“The project overcame challenges caused by Brexit and Covid-19,” Liam said. “The successful completion of One Bishopsgate Plaza, the opening of Pan Pacific London and the encouraging sales of the residential units are a testament to the dedication and hard work of the team.”
To date, UOL said it has sold 43 of the 160 residential units at the Sky Residences. The apartments, which range from one-bedroom units of 580 square feet (54 square meters) to three-bedroom units of 1,632 square feet, were sold at an average price of more than 2,000 pounds per square foot.
Robust demand for its residential projects is one bright spot for UOL. The company reported a 31% increase in revenue to S$1.2 billion ($894 million) in the first half ended June 30, bolstered primarily by increased sales of housing developments in Singapore.
One the biggest property developers in Singapore, UOL is controlled by veteran banker Wee Cho Yaw, 92, chairman emeritus of United Overseas Bank, the nation’s third-largest bank by assets. The bank was founded by his father Wee Khiang Cheng in 1935 as United Chinese Bank. With a net worth of $6.8 billion, Wee ranked No. 9 on the list of Singapore’s 50 Richest that was published last month.
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