London West, UK - More than 2,000 pallets of 1930s reclaimed Portland stone and facing bricks were removed and transported to a secure off-site location for storage during a deconstruction of the first U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, prior to their reuse in a new luxury flats project. Other period building materials are also believed to have been reclaimed which were sold into the salvage trade.
Embassies in period buildings in prime London locations are being sold due to the luxury property boom, with the Canadian High Commission in Mayfair having been sold to Indian developers, Lodha, for over £306m. The development contract of £140m, awarded to Mace, will deliver around £1bn for 41 luxury apartments with demolition firm McGee winning a £7.4m contract for preparatory works. Macdonald House, the 160,000 sqft building at 1 Grosvenor Square failed to sell for £50m in 1999.
This is believed to be the first development for the Lodha Group outside India, where the company is developing more than 35m sq ft of property in Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad. In 2014 Westminster Council granted planning permission on condition that the developers provide ten affordable units off-site plus a payment of £17,295,053. The Canadian government sold the building and relocated the high commission to Canada House near Trafalgar Square on to save money. In 2013, a total of twenty embassies or diplomacy related buildings were sold or considered for sale according to Wetherell Estates and Diplomat magazine.
Grosvenor Square is owned by the Duke of Devonshire. In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice the snobbish Miss Bingley at a country dance says, "We are a long way from Grosvenor Square, are we not Mr Darcy?"