The recent FORA event in London where William Laxton spoke (Photographs of the event are courtesy of Mark Weeks) www.markweeks.com
Family Office Real Estate

Why a family office likes car parks

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As the car as a means of transport becomes increasingly unpopular in cities, car parks might not be the best investment bet. But one London and New York-based family office reckon they offer an opportunity.  

Mactaggart Family & Partners, the co-investment platform of family office/property group Western Heritable, is buying up car parks in central London. William Laxton, the chief investment officer of Mactaggart said they can be unlocked for higher value alternative uses. And recently, Mactaggart bought a 30,000 square feet car park in central London. Laxton says alternative uses could be residential, or for the more subterranean ones,  gyms.

The way real estate is being used is changing and being disrupted more and more

Laxton was speaking at the recent Family Office Real Estate Advisers (FORA) event held at Deutsche Bank’s London offices.

Within the residential sector in the UK, Mactaggart focus is on affordable accommodation, mostly outside of central London, said Laxton. Mactaggart also likes hotels and operates the Nadler Hotel chain in the capital. The investment group’s strategy is to be a select service luxury product in excellent locations that deliberately avoids competing with local food and beverage operators, but rather partnering with them, said Laxton.

Western Heritable was founded in 1896 by Sir John Mactaggart. It operates from London and New York City, where it owns a sizable residential and commercial property portfolio. The two operational teams of Western Heritable are led by Sir John Mactaggart in London and his brother, Philip Mactaggart, in New York.

Within the UK office market, and particularly London, Laxton was concerned that the ever-growing WeWork model is distorting the take-up statistics, because not all the space taken by the serviced office and co-working companies is actually occupied. But,  he added, it was good the office market is becoming more favourable to occupiers, which is driving change and increasing competitiveness.

Laxton said the way real estate is being used is changing and being disrupted more and more. As an example of this, he said: “Large landlords are creating their own operating business to compete with the serviced office market.” Broadly speaking, anything that is good for occupiers is ultimately good for owners of real estate, Laxton said.

Like London, Mactaggart is pro-hospitality in New York. The group also likes smaller office buildings in areas in Brooklyn like Williamsburg and Dumbo, where they create assets to rent to so-called “TAMI” tenants – those working in the technology, advertising, media and information sector.  These occupiers typically want to live where they work and will pay high rents on shorter lease terms, said Laxton.

But New York City is a very different market from London in terms of origination, said Laxton. In New York, if a broker shows you something it is probably because a lot of people have already seen it and said no.  

“It is a more opaque, off-market market,” he said.

Family Office Real Estate Advisers (FORA) is a London based real estate network for senior UHNW real estate advisers.  If you wish more information about FORA contact Alex Gherciu on Alex.g@familyofficecouncil.com.  The next event is on 18 October.

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