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City spotlight: The Pantechnicon, Motcomb Street

Motcomb Street is a hive of activity. It is where deals are done, ladies lunch and customers shop for their latest fashion accessories.

But change is approaching this charming Belgravia hot spot. Over the next 15 - 18 months, the Pantechnicon will be transformed. This Greek revival building with its Doric columns originally started life as a gallery, furniture shop and storage facility in the 1830s. Then a fire in 1874 caused significant damage, leaving only the façade behind.

During the past two decades, this late-Georgian Grade-II listed building has housed everything from a fashion boutique and art gallery to a bank and Starbucks.

This beautifully-proportioned property has always offered potential. Couldn’t it be turned into a cinema, a theatre or be put to some other use? The possibilities are endless. Grosvenor estates ( has taken up the challenge and planning permission has been granted to convert the building.

“It will house a café, bar, restaurant and Belgravia’s first roof terrace,” says Eleanor Fiennes, Asset Manager (North Belgravia) for the Grosvenor Estates. “Motcomb Street will be similar to Elizabeth Street, or Anthropologie on King’s Road. Our vision is to create a vibrant hub interacting with retail and restaurants.”

This culinary and fashion emporium (12,000 sq. ft.) will be set over six floors, including a basement and the south-facing terrace. The building has been let to Pantechnicon (London), who run three Cubitt House pubs plus a hotel in the borough.

And the countdown has begun. In about two months, workmen will start converting this London landmark. Behind the hoardings, a major makeover will take place.

So what does this mean? More places where people can meet, greet and gather in the area. And what about the familiar creaking cobbles along Motcomb Street? They are likely to be replaced with a new road surface. There is talk of possibly pedestrianizing the street in some way, which was raised earlier this summer during a public consultation process. Further public consultation is expected to go ahead in February or March next year, too.

And when the transformation is complete (estimated spring 2017), a contemporary twist will be introduced to the Pantechnicon. It is a significant turnaround for a building that was partly destroyed by fire some 140 years ago. The phoenix has risen from the ashes to bring a new beginning to SW1.