Between 1802 and 1980, the West India Docks in London, England was one of the busiest docks in the world. At one point it employed nearly 50,000 people. Heavily bombed during the Second World War, the area’s original warehouses were nearly all destroyed. And despite a brief recovery in the 1950s, the port’s industry saw a steady decline over the years. By 1980, the docklands had mostly fallen into decay.
The Canary Wharf district, which sits on the site today, is the story of a huge transformation. This revitalization project began in 1981, when the government of Margaret Thatcher established the London Docklands Development Corporation to regenerate the eight-square-mile docklands area.
The first phase of Canary Wharf’s redevelopment was launched in the mid-80s when Canadian developer Olympia & York started construction of One Canada Square, the tower development that would become the heart of the district.
Faced with initial challenges – from the lack of an underground connection in the early days to a major recession in 1992 – the project was almost doomed to failure. However, in the mid-90s, a recovering real estate market, coupled with the completion of the underground Jubilee line, resulted in more businesses being attracted to the area, seeing it as a viable alternative for their offices.
Today, Canary Wharf houses a cluster of skyscrapers that is home to some of the world’s biggest banks. The area also boasts major shopping centres, over 300 stores, restaurants, cafes and bars. An extensive program of arts and cultural events is also on offer throughout the year.
Already the base for more than 100,000 workers, the district’s rise has also spurred residential developments in the surrounding area. And now with two new residential projects in the works at Canary Wharf itself, this flourishing business, shopping and cultural district is also poised to become one of the most sought after residential addresses in London.
Stay tuned with Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos as our own story of transformation takes shape in Midtown Toronto.
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