Michael Belton: Wainbridge wants to change the standards of deluxe apartments in Moscow
After quitting the composition of PIK Group’s shareholders in 2008, Kirill Pisarev had founded Wainbridge company and started building luxury real estate in London. Now its portfolio includes projects on two continents and in more than two dozen cities. Michael Belton, co-owner of the company, told Premium Estate the reason why Wainbridge had decided to expand its sphere of influence to Moscow, about new formats of expensive real estate, which can now be purchased in Moscow.
- How did the foreign history of Wainbridge begin?
- The company was founded in London, and this city was the birthplace of the Wainbridge brand. Today, the largest of our local projects is the collection of classic residences Belgravia Gate. It is located in the most prestigious area of London, on the Grosvenor Crescent. Not far from it another project for two 19th century mansions - Eaton Place is being reconstructed. We have completely renovated the historic buildings created by the legendary architect Thomas Cubitt in the 1850s. I believe, we had served to infuse new vitality into them. Wainbridge had been gradually expanding within 12 years and penetrated the markets of other countries. We expanded the geography of our presence "building the bridges" to other cities and countries, accumulating global expertise.
- In which countries is Wainbridge currently operating?
- The Wainbridge portfolio of projects spans two continents and over 20 cities. We have built luxury private villas on the French Riviera: Dôme du Cap in Saint-Tropez, Casa Ventura and the Villa L'Empyrée collection of villas in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Moreover, Wainbridge is actively working on a new interpretation of the legendary boutique hotel La Voile D'OR. In the Golden Triangle of Paris, at the end of 2019, we opened the 11-room boutique Hotel Particulier Villeroy, an example of the renovation of a 1908 mansion that once belonged to the Villeroy family. In the heart of New York we are implementing the 401 West project (a club house for 10 residences in the prestigious West Village location with views of the Hudson River Par.
- Do you sell it as one company or each country has a personal touch?
- Wainbridge is presented by one global team that works around the world to develop the group and find new projects. We have our own office in each country of presence. Currently there are five of them: in London, Paris, Monaco, Moscow, New York. Meanwhile, we have another company, The Collection. This is a service operator that we introduced to the international market several years ago. The Collection is the answer to the most important request of our target audience - a delicate and personalized service in a way that is relevant for the current time. It is The Collection team that manages most of our projects abroad. This operator is not yet represented in Moscow, but we aim to bring the brand to the capital of Russia in the near future.
- What is the difference between developer's work abroad and doing this type of business in Russia?
- There are no fundamental differences between Russia and Europe, although, there are nuances everywhere. For example, to implement a project in the center of London, you need to go through an incredible number of authorities and approvals. Much depends on the local municipalities, but these procedures are the same in Moscow. Construction times do not depend on the country, they are affected by the local approval system, the economics and complexity of the project, and of course, the professionalism of the contractors.
- It is more comfortable and more profitable to work in some sort of the countries, isn’t it?
- It is comfortable to work everywhere, as we have an international team that knows how to find ways to solve problems in the context of specific markets. We always strengthen our international team expertise by cooperating with local partners, who are the best in their field. As a result, newly built houses are not like the rest. This also applies to the concept of projects and their location. Complexity or ease of implementation is not a matter of priority. The main aim for us is to find a site that is really interesting for investments and think over what exactly in this particular place will be not only appropriate, but also in demand.
- When did the company decide to expand its geography of presence to Moscow? And what is the reason?
- When the real estate market in Russia began to show positive dynamics, and the buyer finally became more demanding for a higher level and quality. We have just been waiting for the Russian market to become“mature”. Finally, it had happened.
In Russia, in 2018, we had already erected the Fili Park Club House, and three more projects are currently being constructed: the SOHO + NOHO apartment complex, the AQUATORIA business-class residential complex and Bvlgari Hotel & Residences Moscow private city residences with the status of apartments. Such seemingly different complexes are united in our portfolio by one thing - the desire to create projects that are truly in demand (not only for living, but also for investment).
- Why does the company pay attention to service apartments?
- Our portfolio of projects includes villas, private residences, apartments, hotels, and even commercial areas. Service apartments are just a part of what we do. But, of course, inalienable and very close to the company's philosophy. It is the format of the service apartments that allows us to create a fully packaged and ready-to-fulfill dream. And here we are not just talking about location, layout or design. Although even in this case we approach differently: masterfully, like a piece of jewelry.
- Do you consider the existing deluxe service in Moscow insufficient?
- It is obvious that the perception of high-quality service has changed. The delicacy and comfort for wealthy people were previously. But today it requires more. An individual approach and personal sincere communication is required, but unfortunately, few can provide it. As for us, we are not only able to provide it, but this is what we start from. For example, at the Hotel Particulier Villeroy ( was opened at the end of 2019) each guest is assigned a personal butler who is available 24 hours a day. The main task of The Collection is to anticipate the wishes of residents and fulfill them in the most unobtrusive and delicate way. This is the very "prudent" service when the guest just thought that it would be nice to order a taxi to the airport, and the car is already waiting at the entrance.
- Do you find this segment promising for Moscow?
- Yes, the segment of service apartments will certainly develop. This is a new format for Moscow. Some projects under the brands of large hotel operators have already appeared on the market.They promise future residents a decent level of service and the best A-La-Carte services. We will see how much these promises will correspond to reality.
All these projects are under construction, they need time( including the commissioning and testing of the service system). It is noteworthy that they all combine both a deployed residential component (usually more than 50 apartments) and a hotel. And this also has an impact. Indeed, in my opinion, a high-quality service can only be intimate, pinpoint, almost personal, especially in the premium segment of real estate. Therefore, I am sure that the future belongs to individual niche and authoring services, which we aim to bring in Moscow under the The Collection brand. If in the near future we find a site of the appropriate level, we will definitely do it. I'm really sure in it.
Interviewed by Tatyana Ryutina