If the walls of Olympia London could talk, they might sound a little hoarse.
At 134-years-old, the West London exhibition hall is overdue a makeover. Fortunately, in January 2019, planning permission was granted for a £1.3 billion ($1.68 billion; €1.48 billion) redevelopment to make it a modern cultural hub with leisure and entertainment facilities.
Set in upmarket Kensington, the Olympia opened in 1886, and was reportedly the largest enclosed space in England at the time. Over time, further buildings were added to the site to complement the main hall.
Attracting more than 1.6 million visitors and hosting more than 200 events each year, it has long been a go-to venue for many of London’s landmark events, including the First Great Horse Show in 1888 and the Ideal Home show in 1908.
But to keep pace with changing living and consumption patterns, local managers and joint owners Deutsche Finance International and Yoo Capital decided to renovate the site in 2017. After obtaining planning permission in 2019, they also secured an £875 million loan from investment bank Goldman Sachs in February this year, with the rest backed by equity from German pensions Bayerische Versorgungskammer and Versicherungskammer Bayern.
Now fully funded, construction is slated to start in Q1 2020, with first tenants expected to move in by 2023. The redevelopment is anticipated to create more than 3,000 jobs during the construction stage, and another 5,400 upon completion. Designed by London-based Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC architects, the 14-acre project will include a cinema, a 1,400-seat performing arts theatre, a 4,100-capacity music venue, a ‘jazz club-style’ restaurant and venue, shops, cafés, two hotels and 2.5 acres of public space.
1886 Te first exhibition hall is built
1923 The National Hall is built
1930 The Central Hall is built
1973 Property tycoon Jeffrey Sterling pays £11.4 million for the site following its purchase of Earls Court
1987 The Olympia London Conference Centre is built for up to 450 delegates.
1999 Sterling sells Earls Court and Olympia for £183 million to London-based property company Capco
2006 The West Hall is built
2011 £20 million invested in a new West Hall
2013 £30 million in redevelopment capital is invested to renovate Olympia Central and Olympia Conference Centre. Site is rebranded as Olympia London.
2017 Olympia London is purchased by investors, led by Deutsche Finance International and Yoo Capital for £296 million.
2018 Planning application is submitted for the site’s £1.3 billion creative and arts redevelopment
2019 Planning permission is granted.
2020 The project is fully funded with Goldman Sachs and German pensions Bayerische Versorgungskammer and Versicherungskammer Bayern providing the capital.
2023 First tenants are expected to move in