NEW STREET ON THE BLOCK: For a city as steeped in history and tradition as London, it’s rare for a landmark or well-known place to be re-branded, but Westminster Council and The Crown Estate, the property company that belongs to the British monarch, have managed it. As part of its ongoing transformation of St James’s in central London, The Crown Estate has officially re-named the 200-year-old stretch of Regent Street that connects Piccadilly Circus with Pall Mall. As of this month, it’s known as Regent Street St James’s. (The main part of Regent Street that stretches from Piccadilly Circus past Oxford Circus will keep its name.)
Once known simply as “Lower Regent Street,” the newly minted thoroughfare has wider sidewalks, two traffic lanes instead of four, pedestrian-friendly crossings, and fancier bars and restaurants such as Villandry and the Greek restaurant Milos, which will open its first London outpost there next year.
The re-naming is part of a 10-year, 500 million pound, or $817 million, project by The Crown Estate to rejuvenate the whole of the St. James’s neighborhood. It has already added international brands such as Barbour, Tiger of Sweden, Sunspel and JM Weston to the neighborhood, and is rapidly ushering out the mass food chains and coffee shops.
Earlier this month, James Cooksey, head of the St James’s Portfolio at The Crown Estate, unveiled the new street sign and said the re-naming was a milestone in the company’s 10-year vision for the neighborhood, reconnecting the street to the rest of St. James’s, “and helping give the area a stronger sense of place.”
The Crown Estate is currently tackling another part of St. James’s on the site of the 16th Century St. James’s Market, not far from Pall Mall. It will comprise 30,000 square feet of international retail — no chain stores allowed — and a new residential project.