Will Herrmann is the man behind Battersea’s latest luxury high rise The View. But, as Sian Clare discovers, he is a property developer with a view.
Will Herrmann says his company is different.
While competitors put up large blocks of very similar “white boxes”, West Eleven is building homes and communities.
“We’re not a large scale property developer. We’re a boutique developer of up to 34 or 40 units.
“It’s very considered what we do. Every unit is different and individual.
“We are building homes people make an emotional connection with.”
The View, currently going up on Battersea Park Road, will consist of 28 apartments – starting at £755,000 – and 3 penthouses – selling for around £3 million each.
Lured by the Power Station?
So was Will drawn to the area by the huge Battersea Power Station regeneration project?
“It has everything to do with Battersea Power Station and nothing to do with Battersea Power Station.
“For us what’s going on at the Power Station and the extension of the Northern Line is really exciting,” he said.
But he drew a line between the large scale, similar, not quite identikit, “white boxes” going up in Battersea, and his own plans.
“That’s not what we do as a developer. We try and build communities.
“We try to have a focal point so residents can come together. In The View that’s the roof terrace on the 13th floor,” he said.
“We try to construct homes from the point of view of living in them.”
Every apartment has views across Battersea Park and London. Every resident will have access to the roof garden with its sun beds and even more panoramic views.
West Eleven’s properties may not have good rental value, but they are a good capital investment, Will says.
A legacy for the community
He also tries to contribute to the local community.
In the case of The View, that helped him to get planning permission for a larger building than the local authority had proposed.
Will approached the neighbouring school, the Harris Academy, and is now building them a sports hall. It will be open to the local community in the evenings.
“At the end you know that, as a result of the building you’re leaving, you’re contributing something to the immediate local community’s needs, maybe for the next 100 years.”
Teachers from the school will also be allowed first refusal on the affordable rented properties in the new building.
So where next?
Will has bought the home of the late Brian Sewell, the art critic, and is developing it into 9 flats and mews houses.
“It’s a beautiful 7,500 sq ft Edwardian house with just under an acre of private gardens in Wimbledon village,” he said.
He has also just bought a 120 acre farm in north Cornwall. He plans to develop a boutique hotel and a small distillery.
Will reveals he has been making property deals since he was an undergraduate at Bristol University.
He converted 5 bedsits into a student house.
“I lived free for two years! I caught a rising market. It’s probably still the best deal I ever did!”
Will seems to have inherited his entrepreneurial spirit from his family.
“My grandfather was a Czech Jewish refugee before the Second World War. He came here with nothing and built a multi-national watch business.”
For 8 years after leaving university, Will worked for his father’s door company.
And Will’s mother was also an entrepreneur – in Battersea!
She set up one of London’s first wine bars Angela & Peter’s in Battersea Park Road in the 1970s.
Will grew up in north London but now lives in the Battersea area with his Balham-born wife and two young children.
He is also proud of his Augmented Reality app of The View – the first AR app in the App Store.
He got the idea during the Pokémon Go craze a couple of years ago.
Before, developers would have to pay up to £15,000 for an architectural model of their building.
Prospective property buyers would then have to travel to the developers’ offices or estate agents to see it.
Now they can simply download the app and “walk around” the building, he says.
He admits the property development market has been slow in the past couple of years due to Brexit. Investors have been cautious. But he is optimistic about the future.
“Once there is some certainty politically and people know what the rules are, they will make the investment.
“Now we’ve got Boris, and my view is I think it’s probably a good thing…”
So does Will ever take a break?
Yes, he says, he is off on holiday next week. And his wife is confiscating his ‘phone!
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