Calling all private equity firms with imagination: one of London's most unusual properties has gone up for sale.
UK telephone company BT is selling secret tunnels that run right under the heart of London. The Kingsway Tunnels, as they are known, were built 100 feet underground in 1942 to help more than 8,000 people take refuge from the German bombers. They run for about one mile, and underneath Holborn.
Since the end of the war the caverns have had a multitude of uses. The UK's secret service MI6 used the space in 1944 to store 400 tons of top secret documents.
In keeping with its bomb-proof structure, the tunnels gained further notoriety in the 1950s when it acted as a long distance exchange hosting the famous “hotline” connecting the presidents of the US and Russia.
Things became slightly less James Bond-esque when BT was privatised in 1984 and the tunnels moved into the ownership of BT property as the new home for closed service television.
However BT has now decided it needs to dispose of the subterranean network, putting the unique real estate asset on the market.
Private equity real estate firms keen on adding value should note that the tunnels have been equipped with full water, electricity and sevices, although excluding the formerly popular snooker tables.
BT concedes though that they cannot be used as a smart new hotel, home or office. “We are looking for a partner with imagination and stature to return the tunnels to productive use,” said Elaine Hewitt, group property director. Surely worth a site inspection, if only out of curiosity.