Jacksons, a once renowned department store in the heart of Reading town centre, is undergoing a major renovation that will see part of it transformed into 33 luxury apartments. This is hoped to coincide with the opening of the new Crossrail station – set for the end of this year – which will lead to faster transport links than ever before between Reading and London.
First opening its doors in 1875, ‘the iconic Victorian shop’ has since become a landmark to locals and visitors in equal measure. The refurbishment will aim to keep much of the building’s original charm in the heart of the shopping centre, with the facade of the four-storey building preserved, and the apartments – to be known as The Residences – spread across four blocks, one of which will be a new-build at the back of the development.
The apartments, built around a ‘tranquil courtyard’, are being developed by Ankor Property Group and are available to purchase through property investment company BuyAssociation. The apartments will benefit from restaurants, shops and businesses right on their doorstep, as well as being located just a five-minute walk from Reading train station, with direct links into London Paddington in around 25 minutes.
Completion of The Residences is expected at the end of November, which is set to coincide nicely with the expected opening of the new Crossrail 1 (or Elizabeth Line) rail route, running through London from Reading in the west to Shenfield in the east.
The major transport project has been beset by delays, issues and controversy, with there still being no clarity over when it will actually be fully operational. It was set to open in December last year, but now a revised six-month opening window has been set between October 2020 and March 2021 thanks to significant issues with signalling and testing. There has now also been speculation that the Paddington to Heathrow Airport arm of Crossrail 1 will be delayed even further.
However, once it is running, it will shorten commute times for many – including those travelling to and from Reading. The line will enable those travelling from Reading to get right across the capital without changing trains, reducing journeys for rail passengers and making new homes in Reading very appealing for buyers and renters.
At The Residences, there will be 20 one-bedroom and 13 two-bedroom flats available, with the apartments described as ‘an ideal investment opportunity for buy-to-let investors’ drawn by Reading’s high level of rental demand. The development is also expected to attract investment from young professionals working either in Reading, the surrounding areas or London itself, with the apartments’ proximity to the station and the new Crossrail line making it especially attractive.
“We are looking forward to bringing the Jacksons department store back to life with three lively restaurant brands and a sympathetic conversion of the Victorian building for new homes,” Nori Touati, managing director of Ankor Property Group, said.
“It’s a great location, positioned close to both the railway station and The Oracle shopping centre, and one that will be further enhanced by the new Crossrail service. Delivering the retail element will provide a natural extension to the high street and complement other commercial schemes in the area.”
Sam Hadfield, managing director at BuyAssociation, added: “The Residences offers a fantastic opportunity to invest in a unique piece of local history. Victorian properties are still one of the most popular styles of building in Britain so it’s great that so many original features will be retained in this sympathetic renovation.”
“Reading is a really thriving, affluent town full of successful young professionals, many of which work in the city’s thriving technology hub including Microsoft, Cisco, Huawei and Nokia. For those who do commute, the train station is only a stone’s throw away from the development and you can get into London in less than half an hour, so you get the best of both worlds.”
Prices begin from £277,403 for a one-bed and £387,333 for a 2-bed, with projected gross yields of between 4.37% and 5%. Estimated rental is from £1,550 per month, while only a 20% deposit is needed on exchange of contracts with nothing else required until completion.
Reading, often labelled as the ‘Silicon Valley’ of the UK thanks to a tech density eight times that of the rest of the UK, is home to multinationals such as Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, Oracle and Microsoft, and was identified as the ‘top town/city for growth in the UK to 2021’ by Ernst & Young (EY) within their Regional Economic Forecast.
The town also has one of the UK’s highest GVA growths of 3.8%, a high student retention rate (26%), apartment price growth of 21% in the past five years, the highest UK employment rate and a highly educated population (with 42.6% of residents educated to NVQ4 level or above).
You can find out more about The Residences in Reading here.