Fabrix i2 property fund makes fifth acquisition in 12 months

The closed-ended i2 fund, which acquires and refurbishes underutilised workspace properties in London and was launched in 2017 by investment manager and developer Fabrix, is on course to deliver a 16 per cent internal rate of return on a seven-year average hold period.

The i2 fund is one of five core mandates operated by Fabrix across the UK and Germany, which have a combined development pipeline in excess of 2 million sq ft.

It has recently acquired 23-24 Gillender Street in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, a 170,000 sq ft site in the Limehouse Cut Conservation Area on the River Lea.

The acquisition marks the ninth for the fund, and the fifth in the last 12 months. The fund retains in excess of GBP100 million further investment capacity and Fabrix will be looking to raise further capital later in 2021.

Fabrix has appointed internationally renowned architects MVRDV to collaborate in transforming the part-Grade-II listed Victorian and part-1930s modernist warehouse. Plans are in discussion to create a mixed-use scheme, with options including stacked logistics and laboratories.

The site is strategically placed for access to the City, Canary Wharf and Olympic Park, as well as acting as a gateway to the Lower Lea Valley and Bow. The building is arranged over four storeys with generous floor-to-ceiling heights of five meters, making the building highly flexible for a range of uses.

Clive Nichol, Chief Executive Officer at Fabrix, says: “Gillender Street is an opportunity to transform one of London’s great warehouses in a part of Tower Hamlets which is undergoing major change. At Fabrix we see immense value in retaining and working with historic buildings like these, both for local communities and cities at large. Working with world-class architects MVRDV, we will revitalise the riverside site to develop a scheme rooted in sustainability and community, making a lasting contribution to the future of this part of East London and addressing some of the challenges our cities face.”

Levy Real Estate represented Fabrix on the acquisition.

Managing Partner Simon Higgins says: “It was a pleasure to work with Fabrix in securing this phenomenal building. Opportunities like this in London are few and far between and it will be exciting to see what the Fabrix team plan for the building given its historic qualities, prominence to the A12 and unique setting onto the River Lea.”

Plans to transform the site – formerly used as a gin distillery, jam factory and a storage facility for fine wines – will represent MVRDV’s first major project in the capital, following the Marble Arch Hill installation on Oxford Street, and the second with Fabrix, who appointed the Dutch firm to its six-acre Atelier Gardens project in Berlin in 2019.

Jacob van Rijs, co-founder of MVRDV, says: “Having partnered with Fabrix for some time in Berlin, we’re excited to work with them now in London. They have shown us how sensitive they are as developers to the character of a place – but also that they are open to new, unexpected ideas that add more layers to that character in tandem with the existing community. We can’t wait to bring such ideas to East London.”

In November 2020, Fabrix received unanimous planning approval for ‘Roots in the Sky’, the radical reimagining of the former Blackfriars Crown Court into a contemporary and sustainable next-gen office, commercial and community space. A 1.4 acre rooftop forest of over 100 established trees will provide extensive access for the local community and the public.