Contractor teams up with Blackstone and First Base to convert two 14-storey towers in King’s Cross

Contractor Bovis Lend Lease and developer Elliott Lipton have teamed up to convert the largest office building in the King’s Cross area of London into the capital’s largest student housing block.

Bovis and Lipton’s firm First Base have been signed up as construction managers by a development team consisting of the Blackstone Group and Generation Estates. The project will convert and extend two 14-storey towers at 200 Pentonville Road into a mixed-use scheme worth £120m.

The team plans to create a podium at the base of the scheme, containing 20,000 ft2 of retail space and a 17,000 ft2 outreach educational facility. The podium will jut out towards Pentonville Road and will lie under the two towers. The towers will be refurbished to include 835 student studios, 52 private flats and 14 affordable flats.

Architect Allford Hall Monaghan Morris is working with engineer Adams Kara Taylor on the designs. The firm took over from fellow architect TP Bennett earlier this year, after Bennett had prepared the scheme for planning.

Stuart Grant, Blackstone Group vice president, said the developer had acquired the site last year from the Royal Bank of Scotland, which had itself inherited the scheme from the NatWest bank.

Grant added that the team aimed to deliver the project by August 2007, with construction due to start next month.

This is a landmark site and the views from the top are stunning

Stuart Grant, Blackstone Group

He said: “This is a landmark site and the views from the top will be stunning. It’ll be the largest student accommodation campus in London.”

Grant added that TP Bennett had undertaken initial planning and AHMM had been brought in to do the detailed designs. The end value of the scheme will be £120m, with a construction value of about £45m.

Blackstone has brought in part of the same team that is delivering 1000 homes for English Partnerships’ London-Wide Initiative, which aims to deliver 4500 homes in the capital over the next five years.

Lipton, son of former CABE chairman Stuart Lipton, and Bovis Lend Lease worked as part of the First Base consortium, along with Abros, Stanhope, Southern Housing Group, Bank of Scotland and East Choice and London and Quadrant.

The initiative sparked controversy two weeks ago when Building revealed that English Partnerships would not extend it beyond the pilot phase, despite indicating that it would be delivering 15-20,000 homes through the programme over the next decade.