If you’re a romantic sort, you may have taken a date to the top of one of London’s towering skyscrapers for a bite to eat while wowing her with one of the most iconic skylines in the world. Smooth moves, buddy. Real smooth.
There you are, tucking into your steak and chips, staring out the window at all that history, money, architectural ingenuity, promise… and generation-crippling crises.
Not quite as romantic that last one, is it.
Unfortunately, right in your eyeline as you look across the cityscape, one building comprehensively symbolises the frankly upsetting state of the London housing market, and why the average Londoner finds it so difficult to invest in bricks and mortar in 2016.
The building? The Tower, at Vauxhall – a 594ft reminder of the eye-wateringly high costs and foreign investors that leaves many London residents out in the cold when looking to buy.
The 50-storey block, shaped like a giant syringe, became the tallest residential building in the UK when it was built in 2013, and since then the 214 luxury apartments it houses have been bought up by a mere 130 of the rest of the world’s most moneyed businessmen, The Guardian reports.
Even then, the stinkin’ rich Scrooge McDucks use their new pads for a tiny fraction of the year, meaning that, for the most part, you’re looking at one big, beautiful, expensive, and empty block of flats.
Take the Tower’s 23,000sq ft, five-storey, £51,000,000 penthouse. The Guardian states that it’s owned by the family of former Russian senator Andrei Guriev, who also owns the biggest mansion in London after Buckingham Palace and is worth an estimated $4bn. The Gurievs got the keys to their whopping new flat, which is 24 times larger than the average three-bedroom home in the UK, in May 2014. Guess what? It is still yet to be lived in.
Other owners of the Tower’s aparments include a former Nigerian government minister, a Kurdish oil magnate, an Egyptian snack-food mogul, a Kyrgyzstan MP and an Indonesian banker.
Meanwhile, the average Londoner - struggling to climb onto the housing ladder, battling out-of-control prices and overseas buyers - have been dealt a bit of good news in the shape of recently-appointed Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has been elected with the promise of cracking down on “greedy developers” and foreign investors.
“There is no point in building homes if they are bought by investors in the Middle East and Asia,” the mayor said. “I don’t want homes being left empty. I don’t want us to be the world’s capital for money laundering. I want to give first dibs to Londoners.”
Here’s hoping, Sadiq. Here’s hoping.
H/T: The Guardian