Earlier this year, Hammersmith & Fulham Council exchanged contracts for the sale of the building with preferred purchaser, Dory Ventures – the American-based retail and leisure group which owns Maclaren, Laser Sail Boats and Albert Thurston menswear.
Dory intend to convert the Grade II* listed Town Hall into a shopping arcade featuring the flagship store for Maclaren. Dory say they intend to carry out a careful and sensitive restoration of the property.
The council decided to sell the building In February 2011 as part of an asset reduction plan aimed at reducing the cost of running the council, and raising cash to pay down debt.
Speaking about what attracted Dory to the building in the first place, Jerry Spano, director of development for the project, said: “We had been looking for a place for the past few years and were concentrating mostly on King’s Road in Chelsea. When this opportunity in Fulham arose, we instantly said that it completely meets the needs for Maclaren.
“During the bidding process, another building came up on King’s Road and we did not go ahead with that. We stopped all bidding on other projects – that shows how determined we were to purchase Fulham Town Hall.
“We were attracted here because of the vibrancy of the area. There are a lot of young professionals and young couples with children and this is a real draw for us.
Speaking about Dory’s plans for the building, Spano said: “What we have in our minds is to create a space so people will come to Fulham Town Hall rather than Knightsbridge, Chelsea or parts of Westminster to shop. We want to make this an essentially British emporium selling traditionally British products.
“The Grand Hall will become the first ever Maclaren showroom in London and is perfectly fit for purpose. In fact, it will be much more than just a showroom. It will be something akin to the Apple genius bar where parents will come to talk and different events will be held.
“The Council Chamber will also be used by Maclaren but will be available for hire and in certain instances may be rented out at a concessional rate so there is giving something back to the community.
“Albert Thurston is a small company with exciting growth plans as the oldest gentleman’s braces manufacturer in Britain. It will also be housed in the building.”
Spano said: “We are going to do everything to keep the character of the building and have been working very closely with English Heritage and the Council.
“We need to make this a viable retail proposition. We want to retain the character of the building but working with the Council and English Heritage to sensitively adapt it in a way that fully respects the listed status and heritage whilst creating an exciting shopping destination.”
Speaking about the future of the building, H&F Council Leader, Cllr Nicholas Botterill said: “This exciting and innovative scheme will provide Fulham Town Hall with a new lease of life and reinvigorate Fulham as one of the capital’s premier shopping destinations.
“Fulham Town Hall has been a landmark building in the borough for more than 100 years and Dory Ventures is steadfastly committed to respecting its rich historical character and public heritage.
“As well as boosting Fulham, the sale of the building will improve the Council’s finances by significantly reducing our debt levels, create numerous jobs and launch a new era of prosperity for this famous building.”
Dory also intend to create a restaurant and extend and convert the upper floors to provide 15- 20 new residential units.
Dory must first obtain planning permission and Listed Building Consent for its development proposals. Once these consents are granted, it is expected that the physical restoration of the building will take an estimated 18 months to two years.