14 May 2019

£10m acquisition loan for retail-to-residential scheme

We agreed to provide Strawberry Star, an international property group, with a £10 million, 12 month loan, to support the acquisition of 110,000 sq ft of retail space in Harlow, Essex. The borrower has secured planning consent to demolish the property and build 447 residential units, a mixture of for sale and private rented sector.

Part of the Harvey Shopping Centre, Harlow’s premier retail destination, the property, comprising of three buildings, is currently let to 39 tenants, with the majority let on short leases. Alongside the residential units, comprising of a mix of studio, one and two bed homes, the scheme will deliver 43,200 sq ft of ground floor retail, across four separate blocks.

Harlow is located 26 miles north west of London and offers good connectivity to Central London; the scheme is a 15-minute walk from the railway station, which provides a direct service to London Liverpool Street in 30 minutes. The scheme’s appeal is further enhanced by both a shortage of new build units in the town centre and house price growth in Harlow during the past 12 months of 1.9%.  

This is the eighth time that we have funded Strawberry Star, other deals have supported commercial acquisitions, refinancings and a VAT loan. The funds are being provided by our Commercial Real Estate Debt Fund II, which has funded a number of significant recent deals across the UK.

Ludo Mackenzie, Head of Commercial Property at Octopus Real Estate, commented: 

“It is a pleasure to work with repeat borrowers, particularly those like Strawberry Star with a reputation and track record of success. We are seeing an increasing number of opportunities to finance schemes where borrowers have recognised the potential to extract value from change of use, whilst at the same time playing a key role in the placemaking process that is underway in many urban centres across the UK.”

Strawberry Star Capital, led by Kekul Shah (Director – Capital) has been playing an integral role in realising Strawberry Star’s mission of delivering 4,000 homes by 2025, by identifying progressive property lenders like Octopus to provide lending on attractive assets and projects.

We are securing opportunities for our volume housing vision aimed at offering London lifestyle homes in the commuter belt towns. Harlow, as one of the leading regional housing markets, is an important addition to our development pipeline. Our mixed-use development Lu2on in Luton just won the prestigious First Time Buyer Award 2019. We plan to create many such outstanding developments with the support of organisations like Octopus Real Estate, who are aligned with our volume housing vision.
Santhosh Gowda
Chairman, Strawberry Star Group