News story: MOD to sell iconic Whitehall property

#1
Ministry of Defence said:
The Old War Office was built in 1902 for the Imperial General Staff and was central to operations. The building was a focal point for military planning throughout the major conflicts of the 20th century, housing numerous secretaries of state, including Sir Winston Churchill.
The building will go on open market sale shortly following the appointment of suitable professional agents and is expected to attract significant interest from developers.
In 2014 MOD staff will move out of the Old War Office and all operations will transfer into MOD’s Main Building. This is part of the MOD-led drive to operate a more efficient estate.
Bringing MOD teams together into one building will save the taxpayer around £8 million a year in running costs and will also enable closer working and collaboration within the department.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:
As a result of our work to make MOD leaner, more professional and more efficient, we are able to concentrate defence officials in London in a single building and sell the Old War Office.
Bringing MOD teams together into one building will save the taxpayer around £8 million a year in running costs as well as generating a capital receipt. It will also enable closer working and collaboration within the department.
The disposal of the Old War Office follows the announcement of the sale of the military facility in Old Brompton Road, London. The capital receipt from these sales will be invested in Defence priorities.



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#2
Great timing - mark the centenary of WW1 by, err, flogging off the Army headquarters during WW1. Of course, finding an appropriate buyer in the current climate for a Grade I listed building with a history of major asbestos problems will be an absolute doddle...
 
#3
Its an utterly awful building, neglected for decades and is probably the most unpleasant working environment I've ever had. The sooner people are out of there the better - there is no trace of its history anymore, and beyond the lovely 2nd floor staircase, the rest of it is like every other government building out there - old, damp, mouldy, ancient furniture and a sense that the cold war has yet to begin, let alone end...
 
#4
Any news on the sale of Hyde Park Bks and the repurchase of Chelsea Bks, land values being what they are in London?
 
#5
They will probably sell it for far less than it is worth, and some middleman will make a killing by selling it on to a hotel chain. :(

And they think they are commercially "smart".
 
#6
They will sell it for far less than it is worth, and a series of middlemen will make a killing by selling it on to a hotel chain. :(

And they think they are commercially "smart".
Quck fix.

"As a result of our work to make MOD leaner, more professional and more efficient, we are able to concentrate defence officials in London in a single building and sell the Old War Office."

Has anybody noticed the same bullshit coming up time after time i.e. leaner, more professional, blah?
 
#7
Never ever ever sell high value assets in prime locations.

Never.

Its commercial stupidity on a grand scale.


Joint ventures, leasing, profit sharing, whatever. But never ever sell off prime assets.
 
#9
It will go to a hotel chain.

Shame in many ways. Family jewels and all that. Plus as said it is in such a prime location, Charles I was executed next door, nice gee-gees opposite. Nelson at one end, HP at the other. Go for 100mil in current climate? Not a lot considering the MOD budget and loss.
 
#10
The question of value is what state the building is in and how much work is required to make it viable for a new role. Anyone who has been in it knows what poor shape it is in now. The issue is taking an office and turning it into luxury hotel - the cost of this will drive the offers mod get for it.


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#11
The question of value is what state the building is in and how much work is required to make it viable for a new role. Anyone who has been in it knows what poor shape it is in now. The issue is taking an office and turning it into luxury hotel - the cost of this will drive the offers mod get for it.


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Totally agree, genuinely. Even more reason not to flog it off as it's a sh*t state. A friend of mine works there and has kept me abreast of developments.
 
#12
Its an utterly awful building, neglected for decades and is probably the most unpleasant working environment I've ever had. The sooner people are out of there the better - there is no trace of its history anymore, and beyond the lovely 2nd floor staircase, the rest of it is like every other government building out there - old, damp, mouldy, ancient furniture and a sense that the cold war has yet to begin, let alone end...
Yeah, but think about the chairs they could buy with the money.

I was there for the transition from MB to Metropole. My boss (now CDS) was not impressed.

"Oy Doris, why have we got an office overlooking some effing heating pipes, and MO3 can actually see the street?".

MB is apparently all glammed up now.

With nice chairs and stuff.

I'm a civvie now, so I don't care what all my taxes have been spent on.

Oh, hang on.......
 
#13
Stan - I've spent most of my career in that building and will be genuinely saddened to see it go. But the MOD is in an impossible position here - keep it on and you face a very large bill to refurbish it to acceptable modern standards - the figure involved is likely to run into the tens of millions once you consider the deferred maintance needing fixing, and to just get it to a normal state. Do you want to see that kind of money spent on an MOD office block or on modern equipment?
Alternatively MOD can get rid of it 'as is' accepting they may not get as much as if it were refurbished, but saving £80 million over 10 years isn't small change, and it also reduces the footprint of the London estate (which tabloids will like).
The issue for office space in London is that the MOD is vastly smaller than in the early 1990s when we had 18 buildings in London, and even today MB is seemingly half empty at times. We dont have enough people to fill MB, so why keep two office buildings when the budget is stretched (and before you ask, yes the OGD moving in option was considered and rejected, almost certainly on grounds of cost - see my point about the cost of refurb).
 
#14
Jim - Well I'm sure you're in the know more than I am. Yes it must be an impossible position for MOD which is a shame to see these things happen, sign of the times. I'd admit that MB isn't all that either. Bit of a merecat heaven but most office blocks are these days, I'm lucky mine is pretty good, open but not individually boxed in plus I 'work' mainly at home. I'm sure OWO will make someone very happy/rich.
 
#15
It'll be interesting to see what proposals emerge for OWOB. I agree with Jim that the building's a mess at present, but so were Northumberland and Metropole buildings when they were vacated and handed back to the original owners. They both look spectacular now, inside and out, so transformations can be achieved if there's the will (and the private money).

I also hope the developers make a good job of Admiralty Arch - the location is fantastic but I'm surprised they can make enough rooms out of it to create a worthwhile hotel. At least OWOB has size in its favour.
 
#16
Alternatively MOD can get rid of it 'as is' accepting they may not get as much as if it were refurbished, but saving £80 million over 10 years isn't small change, and it also reduces the footprint of the London estate (which tabloids will like).
The issue for office space in London is that the MOD is vastly smaller than in the early 1990s when we had 18 buildings in London, and even today MB is seemingly half empty at times. We dont have enough people to fill MB, so why keep two office buildings when the budget is stretched (and before you ask, yes the OGD moving in option was considered and rejected, almost certainly on grounds of cost - see my point about the cost of refurb).
As I say, vacating it is one thing. Selling it is another.

The middle men will wine and dine some Civil Servant, a report will be written about asbestos and upkeep, it will be sold to a middleman for a few million, then resold for hundreds of millions.

Dear God, good men have become famous by buying a property like this on credit then doing a few deals....

Lease it for 99 years. Then use that as an asset to raise capital as necessary.
 
#17
Yeah, but think about the chairs they could buy with the money.

I was there for the transition from MB to Metropole. My boss (now CDS) was not impressed.

"Oy Doris, why have we got an office overlooking some effing heating pipes, and MO3 can actually see the street?".

MB is apparently all glammed up now.

With nice chairs and stuff.

I'm a civvie now, so I don't care what all my taxes have been spent on.

Oh, hang on.......
Dale, were you there as his PA in late 01 - mid 02?
 

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#18
How much is made on the sale of the Old War Office is immaterial to MoD as any money raised from the sale will go straight to the Treasury. With the armed forces at or moving to the size of one WW2 Corps, consolidating office space sounds sensible. If there is no sentimental reason to retain Regiments with hundreds of years of history, why keep a pile of bricks just over one century old.
 
#19
It was actually a pretty decent building after the refurb: certainly it was better than most other central London accommodation, (compare with Metropole, the pre £3.5bn refurb Main Building, Northumberland, Victoria Street, and many others) which goes to show that if you give MOD anything nice, 20 years later it'll be a slum as maintenance gets deferred, nobody replaces fittings and short cuts are taken everywhere. I see they've started to clean the outside - always a good indicator that MOD is about to move out and that a site is being tarted up for the estate agents, as those who have been in BAOR will remember.

Jim has a point about MOD shrinking, but I can't help thinking HMG is getting rid of something it could have put to better use, not least because the eye-watering costs of turning it into a hotel will cut the £100m MOD is hoping for quite substantially.

In the early 1980s Plan A apparently was for what's now DFID to get the place, only Mrs T couldn't stomach the sandle-wearing lentil-eaters anywhere so visible.
 
#20
It was a striking improvement on what came before - a row of ex-private houses (on the site of the present RAC Club) that had been purchased over the years and knocked together. Getting from one end to another of the labyrinth was a challenge involving going up and down numerous stairs and files could disappear for months and there was a protracted correspondence about the War Office cat. Some said she should have sixpence a week allowance, others said she should have nothing and live on rats. Others disagreed, but said sixpence was too much ...
 

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