35-storeys — Isle of Dogs
An overview of Harbour Central
Part of the £550m Harbour Central development, Sailmakers is the name given to a collection of 355 new build flats to rent in Canary Wharf.
Developed by Galliard, the Harbour Central plot contains 7 buildings, with the center piece being Maine Tower, a 42-storey Art-Deco style building.
In 2015 Greystar, a commercial build to rent operator, paid Galliard £207.8m to acquire a stake in the development. For this they obtained two towers, Sirocco and Ostro, with the smaller Ostro tower linked to an 8 storey low rise podium.
Sirocco tower is 35 storeys and topped by a residents roof terrace. Ostro tower is just to the northwest of Sirocco and stands at 24 storeys. Architecturally, Ostro tower is a smaller version of the tallest tower on the Harbour Central site, Maine Tower.
Ostro and Sirocco towers were the first built out of the 7 buildings planned on the Harbour Central site. They opened in August 2018.
The site is currently nearly finished in terms of the 6 accommodation buildings, but the 3 commercial units planned at the bottom of the towers are yet to be developed.
Additionally, there is a smaller building in the centre of the site designed to provide leisure facilities, such as a swimming pool and spa, which is yet to be completed.
Landscaping is finished, and there are two center pieces to tie the development together. Between Sailmakers and Maine Tower, on the eastern side of the plot, a water feature and central square. On the western side of the plot, there is a landscaped grass area and children’s play area to adjacent to Maine Tower.
Who are Greystar?
Greystar are a US based property developer, specialising in build to rent schemes. They are massive players in the US student accommodation and new build rental market, with over 450,000 homes.
In 2013 they began expanding operations into Europe, and they currently have nearly 4,000 homes under construction in the UK alone. They presently have 9 schemes across London, and Sailmakers was one of their first build to rent properties in the UK.
Area and Transport
A short 3-5 minute walk from the nearest DLR station South Quay, the Harbour Central development is also 10 minutes walk away from Canary Wharf’s financial center and the Jubilee line station. There are also parking spaces available for Sailmakers within the Harbour Central development.
There are pick up and drop off areas in front of Ostro tower, and a new access road linking east west between Millharbour road and Lighterman’s road runs to the north of the development. As a result, Sailmakers is a relatively easy to access, and one of the more car friendly developments in the area.
Sailmakers boasts a large amount of facilities for their tenants.
Spread across the two towers they have a residents cinema, business lounge and meeting rooms. In addition they have the usual facilities found in modern developments: bike storage, cleaning and dry cleaning services, and reception and concierge services.
In total the Sailmakers development provides 16,000 square foot of shared amenities space. This is pretty impressive for only 355 flats, and compares favourably with nearby build to rent apartment 10 George Street, having over double the amenities space per flat.
Placement of shared facilities
When viewing lots of the newer developments in Canary Wharf it almost feels like a box ticking exercise. Business lounge, check. Gym, check. Cinema? Better stick that in the basement.
In contrast at Sailmakers it genuinely looks like a lot of these shared spaces are both welcoming, but also nicely spread throughout the building, rather than being stuck in the least desirable corner with limited light.
One reason for this is the differing commercial interest in new build apartments for sale, and commercial build to rent operators like Greystar. If you are selling flats for a premium on the 34th floor, inevitably the gym or cinema gets pushed down towards the basement or the ground floor to improve margins.
Here this is where Greystar have been quite clever, using the facilities at Sailmakers as a selling point to improve the rent throughout the building. As a result, all of the facilities are above ground, light and airy.
The kitchen and club room is on the 35th floor of the building. The 6,000 square foot gym has panoramic views and occupies the whole 34th floor. Even the cinema and lounge room find themselves on the top floor (8th) of the podium jutting out from Ostro tower.
I’m not convinced the cinema needs expansive windows and an eighth floor view. But as result of the thoughtful amenities, the building will attract repeat custom and be a sought after location for a wide range of tenants.
It has appeal for families but also for City workers who will no doubt appreciate expansive co-working spaces, as the shift towards home working gathers pace. Working from home is also supplemented by 1gigabit wifi throughout the building, another nice feature.
While renting arguably offers numerous benefits to owning a home, the downsides are usually all limited to freedom. Freedom to paint the walls whatever colour you like, live without the constraint of landlords permissions. In the UK it is estimated around 45% of the population own a pet, however only 7% of landlords currently advertise homes as suitable for pets.
Not only is Sailmakers relatively unique in enabling pets, but as a high-rise development in Canary Wharf there are currently very few alternatives.
There is a monthly charge of £75, which Sailmakers claim contributes to the additional communal cleaning required, however it is a small price to pay for the ability to keep your pets. They also offer pet sitting, helping you to juggle the city lifestyle with pet ownership.
No 24/7 concierge
While it is a minor detail, the downside to larger managed rentals is that the staffing ratio, and getting hold of reception to book out a business suite or collect parcels etc at peak times can be a lengthy wait.
You are paying Canary Wharf rents here, and virtually all of the other new developments in the area have the security and convenience of a 24 hour reception.
It looks generally well managed and they do boast an onsite maintenance team, however for those wanting an ultra personal service, 24/7 concierge and a more hotel style feel, its probably worth checking out Vertus. Albeit, the Canary Wharf groups Vertus rental arm comes at quite a significant increase in price point.
Building site opposite
Directly to the north of the site is another large development, branded as Millharbour Village. This is currently underway by Ballymore, and 615 homes in the 3 Millharbour plot just north of Sailmakers are being built, in towers up to 44 storeys high.
Residents on the south side of Ostro Tower or the south and west sides of Sirocco Tower will probably have little impact, but other areas in these buildings are about as close as you can get to having a skyscraper built next to you. The impact is likely to be less of a problem the higher up you get, and due to the insulation of the modern buildings. However the dust and noise from the construction site will be around to stay for a while.
Unless you are planning on renting here for a the very long term, it is unlikely you will see the benefits from the newly developed area once it is completed.
As one of their first forays into the UK built to rent sector, Greystar seem to have got off to a great start here.
They have been wise with their choice of development, and if you are shopping for buildings to acquire, there is a definite advantage to obtaining buildings from a developer like Galliard. Galliard have a vested interest in keeping the site beautifully landscaped and surrounded by quality buildings, as the centre piece of Harbour Central is their own flagship £140m building!
As a result Sailmakers is one of the nicest developments to rent in the area, and Ostro Tower as a miniature version of Maine Tower is particularity architecturally interesting, as well as being fitted out to a very high standard inside.
The amenities are great, and the advantage of being a larger operation is that there are some very keenly priced (for the area) deals on rental properties. Provided you choose your flat wisely or are ok with some noise and dust from the current neighbours, it looks like a fantastic place to live.