Coining It: Royal Mint Court’s Journey From Receivership To (Maybe) A Chinese Embassy
Until 1970 it was where every coin in Britain was made. In 2013 it went into receivership when one of its its owners could not pay its debts. And now it could become the London outpost of the economy that will soon be the world's largest.
Royal Mint Court, next to the Tower of London, has a more varied history than most London office complexes. The latest twist could see it bought by the Chinese government and turned into a huge new embassy and cultural quarter, according to Estates Gazette.
Owners Delancey and LRC are in talks to sell the 5.5-acre walled site, which has planning permission for a £750M scheme comprising 550K SF of offices and 50K SF of retail and leisure space.
The Chinese government is considering other sites, including the former Royal Mail depot in Nine Elms. The current embassy is a 20K SF building at 49-51 Portland Place, W1.
The site was first developed in 1807 and was the home of the Royal Mint until 1975, meaning all of Britain’s coinage was made there. During the Second World War more than 700 million coins a year were minted there, with British workers paid using coins rather than banknotes to thwart a Nazi plan to destabilise the British economy by flooding the country with fake notes.
The production of coins was moved to Wales to save money and a 460K SF office complex was developed on the site in the 1980s.
In 2002 a 50% stake in the scheme was bought by Irish investors Tom Quinn and Donal O’Mahoney for £95M using a loan that would rise to £85M. The other 50% was owned by Delancey.
Quinn and Mahoney’s stake went into receivership in 2013 after they failed to repay the loan after it matured. Delancey tried to snap it up but was beaten to the punch by Yehuda Barash’s LRC, which paid £50M for it in 2014 and formed a joint venture to develop the by-then empty scheme with Delancey.