You might think it’s just a Tube station which suffered a bad case of redevelopment back in the 1970s. But Old Street was recently selected for reinvention by Appear Here, working in conjunction with Transport for London. Now, as it says on the Appear Here website, “this is no ordinary retail space, this is where the very best of above the ground is collected and curated underground. Come here to be entertained, inspired and make your idea travel.”
Really? Someone seems to have decided that in the quest to find niche markets, niche locations are the new compass. But does it work? Do the sums point in the right direction?
Rents for the Old Street units vary considerably: for a 500sqft unit the rent is £214 a week, whereas larger outlets cost £333 for 550sqft. Market stalls are priced at £116 a week for 50sqft, but the smallest units are 20sqft, costing £107 a week to rent.
By comparison, for a 350sqft unit located in Brick Lane the rental cost is £1,751 pcm. This works out a lot lower – at Old Street you’d be paying an extra £4249 for 244sqft more floor space than in Brick Lane. Seems a bit steep. Perhaps Old Street is able to charge more because it’s the location that’s trending right now.
We sent a reporter to visit its new businesses and see how they are faring. Pleasantly surprised that a glass of wine was modestly priced at £3.50, Jasmine McRae enjoyed a drink at The Wondering Wine Kitchen, which has recently popped up in Old Street having done time on the festival circuit.
Unfortunately, by the time Jasmine left, she didn’t have much of a head for figures:
“In a bustling tube station with a sea of faces moving through the tunnels, the warm and inviting lights of The Wondering Wine Kitchen beckon you in. It’s easy to see why the rats leave the race, even just for a few minutes, to relax and unwind here.
“Taking a seat at the bar, I am greeted by the beaming Alexei (a warm and bespectacled music fan, a rum-drinker, whose grandparents thought it would be hilarious to suggest a really Russian name to his solidly British mum and dad). I glance down at the long menu of reds, whites and rosé wines available in 125ml, 500ml or 1-litre measures. And yes, I squealed aloud at the prospect of being able to drink a whole litre of wine in one sitting!
“Scanning the menu, it was refreshing to see a boutique winery offering glasses of wine for really affordable prices – from £3.50 upwards. The same goes for the hundreds of bottles that clutter the shelving along each wall: some of the full size bottles can be purchased for just £6. However, if you’ve got money to burn, there’s always the £280 bottle of Brut.
“The Wondering Wine Kitchen Pop Up is open until 23 February 2017 but don’t panic if you can’t get down there before then, as Alexei informed me they will be at V Festival this year!”