Monday, 10 June 2013

A Boris Sings in Berkeley Square: London's Changing 'Monopoly Board', Mayor Boris Johnson, London Real Estate Forum 2013

21st Century London: 
An "Exciting Game of Monopoly" 

The Mayor of London promises the city will attract more foreign investment. 

Paul Coleman reports on a night in Berkeley Square.

A 'Lego' model of London's Olympic Park took two days to build

Monday, 10th June, begins in one square and ends in another very different city square, writes Paul Coleman.
Radyo Gezi, broadcasting from a tent in Taksim Square in Istanbul, reports this morning on three deaths. One person died from a heart attack. Another died from injuries suffered in tear-gas flavoured clashes with police. A  police officer also fell from a bridge.
  Thousands more suffered injury as police clashed with thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Istanbul's central square. An estimated one million protesters are involved, campaigning against unemployment, 'creeping dismemberment' of Turkey's secular institutions, and the political and economic disenfranchisement of an entire generation of younger people.

Westminster City Council leader Philippa Roe introduces
Mayor of London Boris Johnson (2nd left)

London Real Estate Forum
By vast contrast, on a cool evening in wealthy Mayfair, Mayor of London Boris Johnson tub-thumps a podium in a swanky marquee in Berkeley Square. The Mayor delights in opening the first London Real Estate Forum, a gathering of London's 'real estate community', mainly property developers. 
   Their delegates, registered at up to £995 + VAT each, hear Johnson congratulate them for "the wonderful things you are doing for our city".

New developments
Johnson announces a new scheme at Silvertown Quays - where a 'global brands centre' might host élite brands, like Burberry, Nike and Apple, on a publicly-owned 50-acre site at the Royal Docks in east London. 
  He highlights the Westfield and Hammerson joint venture to 'regenerate' the retail heart of the south London suburb of Croydon - and the £1.6 billion Malaysian-led investment in Battersea that "will transform that mouldering old hulk - Battersea Power Station - that most of us know only from the Pink Floyd album cover".

Mayor of London Boris Johnson (Photo: Agnese Sanvito) 
Chinese commercial centre
In full chunter, Johnson goes on: "I was also very pleased the other day to sign with an extraordinary Chinese company, er, ahem..organisation, ABP, a fantastic project to regenerate the Royal Albert Dock into a third financial district for London.
  "I can't promise the Royal Albert will be the same as in the nineteenth Century when it was the  epicentre of the world's greatest commercial empire...but under these proposals there will be twenty thousand jobs for Londoners - which is as many jobs as there were in the docks in their Victorian heyday."

Mayor of London: "London - an exciting Monopoly game"
(Photo: Agnese Sanvito)

Monopoly board
Johnson says he looks at the elegant maps and detailed models displayed by developers in the marquee and regards them as "a real Monopoly board". Sweeping his hand across his marquee audience, Johnson waxes: "You are players in one of the most exciting and most important games of Monopoly ever played. 
  "There are people in this room who can genuinely claim that they have Park Lane. Who's got Mayfair? Who's got Piccadilly? Yes, Land Securities. 
"And who's got the Old Kent Road? And why not? My friends, that's my message to you tonight. We're going to need a bigger, revised Monopoly board for London."

The Mayor of London formally opened the London Real Estate Forum 2013, hosted inside a temporary marquee at the north end of Berkeley Square.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, June 2013.

© Words and Photos (Unless Stated Otherwise) Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, 2013.

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