Knight Frank is to start marketing Battersea power station this week – the first time that the listed building has been on the open market in its history.
Offers of up to £500m are expected, and indeed needed to cover the debts of its last owners, but purchasers will be buying a poisoned chalice.
The site is currently owned by administrators Ernst & Young following the collapse of its would-be developers last November. The two previous owners who owned it since it was decommissioned in 1983 walked away from it.
Numerous plans to restore it, regenerate it, turn it into a nightclub, theme park, shopping centre and football stadium have so far resulted in acres of media headlines, but no action – mainly because no one can afford this bottomless money pit.
The 39-acre site, billed as the last big undeveloped building site in central London, currently has planning permission for a £5bn development of 3,400 homes, plus shops, offices and an entertainment complex, and a new Underground link.
The consent also requires full restoration of the derelict power station at an estimated £150m. The developers will also have to contribute £200m to the new Tube line.
Unsurprisingly, Knight Frank will be looking for rich buyers outside the UK, targeting the Far East, Middle East, India, Russia and the US.
Knight Frank is expecting the sale to go to final bids this autumn.
Stephan Miles-Brown, head of residential development at Knight Frank, said: “Battersea power station is a landmark recognised all over the world by hundreds of thousands of people, not least because of its appearance in the Beatles film Help! and the Pink Floyd Animals album cover.
“It is as iconic as the Chrysler Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower and indeed Big Ben and the London Eye, and known even to people who may have never been to London.
“The building gives the entire area a unique sense of place as well as putting it on the map. Its next owner will have to take a creative and long-term approach to its future.”
Is it just EAT, or does anyone else think the best thing to do with this monstrosity is to knock it down?
Or, if people really can’t bear the thought of losing London’s most famous eyesore, why not turn it back into a power station?