Greycoat’s Suffolk St St. Jame’s: A New Era of Boutique London Office Real Estate

A stroll through London’s St. James’s Square is a must for visitors and locals alike. “Over the centuries the square has been home to monarchs, earls, dukes, foreign ambassadors, no less than 15 prime ministers and several other British dignitaries,” declared the St. James’s Square Trust. 

The area is home to some of the most luxurious buildings in London. Suffolk St. James’s — completed in 20232021 — is the crown jewel of real estate development company Greycoat, offering an unparalleled boutique experience to tenants in the West End.

“Greycoat is delighted to have completed the off-market acquisition of 15 Suffolk Street SW1 in partnership with Heitman LLC,” Greycoat Real Estate posted to its Instagram.

“The property comprises just over 21,000 sq ft arranged over lower ground, ground and four upper floors, and occupies a prominent position in one of London’s most prestigious sub-markets.”

For Greycoat CEO Nick Millican, it’s all in service of creating a new approach to in-person collaboration in a post-COVID-19 economy. “We speak to tenants in our buildings. It’s very, very difficult to build any sort of a team culture remotely. If you’re a business that recruits graduates, then you just can’t train them remotely,” he explains. It’s no wonder why so many businesses are requiring workers to return to the office.

Instead of designing an in-person space that supports the bare minimum level of collaboration, Millican’s team set out to build an engaging, luxurious experience supported by the built environment. “I understand why some people may not personally don’t like going into the office five days a week, but I’m willing to go in a couple days a week if the work space offers a nice environment which promotes a good work culture, then this creates a professionally compelling reason to return to the office. is nice and I’m working with the people I need to work with. There has to be a professionally compelling reason to want to uproot,” Millican says. 

But that was before the boutique office boom. Setting a precedent to be one of the best boutique office spaces in London, A few years after its opening, Suffolk St. James’s sets the new standard for London office spaces. 

Greycoat Real Estate’s Vision for Suffolk St. James’s

St. James’s Square is known for its incredible posh views and garden. The area’s classic elegance might harken back to a bygone era, but Millican believes its charm should also support the needs of modern workers. “Real estate goes through cycles. A lot of mainstream corporates viewed it as a cost center, where it was their real estate team’s job to lower the cost per desk and drive efficiency. You ended up with people being crammed into very dense open plans,” he explains. 

That’s why Greycoat decided to take an innovative approach with Suffolk St. James’s. The project was conceived to create a space that meets the functional needs of modern businesses while enhancing the work-life experience of those who inhabit it.

At the heart of Greycoat Real Estate’s vision for Suffolk St. James’s was the desire to integrate flexibility, sustainability, and luxury into a boutique office setting. Recognizing the shift in how businesses and their employees view and use office spaces, especially post-pandemic, the development aims to be a destination that fosters creativity, collaboration, and well-being.

Of course, development was far from easy. COVID-19 had a tremendous impact not just on Greycoat, but also on London real estate as a whole. “In the U.K., there was a very hard lockdown from March 2020 to July 2020. We had a period of time when they would raise or lower controls. That was a very, very challenging time to run any business, especially a business where your whole thing is offices where people are not legally allowed to work in,” Nick Millican explains. 

The U.K. government also implemented stricter sustainability measures, which significantly increased the cost of construction and complicated the project’s timeline. “There’s a much wider expectation of a leadership team involving environmental, social, and governance,” Millican adds. 

Despite these challenges, Greycoat completed Suffolk St. James’s in 20232021, offering over 21,000 square feet of space to serve as both Greycoat’s headquarters and leasable rentable office space properties for tenants.

Suffolk St. James’s Impact on Businesses and the Local Community

Modern office design should conform spaces to fit human needs, not force humans into unnatural or uncomfortable working conditions. For Greycoat’s Nick Millican, employees’ need for flexible work arrangements is an important lesson from COVID-19 that he applies to Greycoat’s projects.

“I don’t think we will get back to exactly the way things were in 2019. It has made people say, ‘Look, if we are going to drag our staff 45 minutes away from their house to come to work in the same place, then we have to do a better job of making that place somewhere they’d actually like to be.’ Make it a compelling reason to be there,” he says. 

Millican explains that Suffolk St. James’s offers a range of amenities and features tailored to enhance the work experience while fostering a sense of community. 

Collaboration-First Design

Privacy is a must-have in any office, but Greycoat also wanted to create welcoming, energizing shared spaces for collaboration. Suffolk St. James’s includes communal and private terraces offering stunning city views, perfect for informal meetings or a tranquil break. 

The building also includes shared meeting rooms and a picturesque courtyard garden to facilitate collaboration and leisure, ensuring a versatile and dynamic work environment. Many Londoners experience a lack of nature in their daily lives, and this unique setup ensures tenants get a taste of fresh air while chatting with coworkers, employees, or clients. 

Sustainability in St. James’s Square

Sustainability is a hot-button issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. Nick Millican knew Greycoat needed to build Suffolk St. James’s according to the most stringent sustainability standards. 

But it wasn’t easy. “There’s increasing regulatory pressure to ensure that buildings consume less energy. It’s pretty expensive to retrofit or construct new buildings on that basis. You’ve seen a huge increase in construction costs because of inflation and changing specifications,” he says. 

Fortunately, Greycoat managed to pull off these strict sustainability standards, designing the entire building based on the principles of net-zero carbon. The building achieved an EPC A rating and BREEAM “Excellent” rating. isn’t perfect, but it’s currently working toward an energy performance certificate “A” rating and a building research establishment environmental assessment method “Excellent” rating. 

Well-Being and Inclusive Design

Central to Suffolk St. James’s design is the emphasis on well-being and inclusivity. The office complex boasts an array of end-of-trip facilities, including showers, lockers, and secure bicycle storage. A studio gym and a fully equipped kitchen are available on-site, allowing employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance without leaving the premises. The building’s design also recognizes the importance of relaxation and social interaction, with communal and private terraces offering stunning views.

Inclusive design principles ensure the building is accessible to all, reflecting Greycoat’s commitment to creating welcoming and comfortable spaces for everyone. For example, step-free access is available to all areas of the building, removing barriers for anyone who uses a wheelchair. 

Redefining the Future of Office Spaces

London real estate is a prized commodity, but businesses need to make the most of workers’ time in the office or risk losing their employees to the competition. “It seems like OoOffering people free lunch or a happy hour on Thursdays is not going to cut it anymore to get people to go into the office,” Nick Millican says. Spaces like Suffolk St. James’s are a testament to the evolving needs of businesses, addressing the desire for a more balanced and fulfilling work environment. Instead of seeing real estate simply as a functional environment, office spaces are becoming centers of innovation, collaboration, and even social responsibility.

Ben Williams

Ben is a freelance writer and journalist who is a regular contributor on multiple national news websites and blogs.

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