London's U.S. Embassy to Be Transformed into Luxury Hotel
PHOTO: The U.S. Embassy London as seen from Grosvenor Square. (via Flickr/U.S. Embassy London)
The U.S. Embassy in London's Mayfair neighborhood dates back to the late 1950s, but as State Department officials prepare for a transition to a new complex in South London, the owners are looking to transform the iconic building into a luxury hotel.
The Evening Standard reported Qatar Investment Authority subsidiary Qatari Diar is proposing a $1.4 billion redevelopment that would begin next year when officials leave the nine-story building.
The plan is to refurbish the former embassy into a 137-room five star hotel equipped with a spa, ballroom, five restuarants and half of a dozen shops.
"We have studied the building's design and its history as well as its surroundings to deliver an architecturally and socially coherent proposal," British architect Sir David Chipperfield told NBC News.
Chipperfield has been appointed to lead the redevelopment efforts.
The proposal is set to be submitted to the Westminster council next month. In the meantime, a public exhibition on the plans will be open from April 11 to April 16.
"We take our responsibility to the local community very seriously and are committed to undertaking an in-depth and thorough engagement with local residents, businesses, amenity societies, heritage bodies, Westminster City Council and other local stakeholders," Qatari Diar's chief development officer Jerry Holmes told the Evening Standard.
If all hurdles are cleared, renovations are likely to begin early next year after officials make the move to the new embassy in Nine Elms. Efforts will include the removal of barricades that were set up around the building's perimeter more than a decade ago following the September 11 attacks.
Qatari Diar originally purchased the building at Grosvenor Square back in 2009, one year after plans for a new embassy were announced.
The building is protected under British heritage laws.
"Grosvenor Square will write a new chapter of its own, one that I hope retains an imprint of America's deep and abiding history here," U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun told NBC News.
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