The Pollen Estate said its work on the street, expected to complete by the end of next year, will double the amount of gallery space there.
It has faced criticism for pricing out the traditional galleries. However Pollen chairman David Shaw, the head of The Crown Estate's Regent Street portfolio, said it wants the street to become the “premier destination in the world for successful Modern and Contemporary art gallery businesses”.
The Pollen Estate said more than 60% of the shop fronts on the street are being redeveloped to “reignite the spiritual home of modern and contemporary art, making it as important in the 21st century as it was in the early 20th when it launched the careers of Francis Bacon, Max Ernst and Paul Klee.”
As part of its plan to attract new businesses it has launched an art magazine for the area, it sponsors Brown’s London Art Weekend and plans to refurbish the area’s “public realm” – such as improving street furniture and pavements – once the construction work is finished. It will also spend on marketing to attract new visitors to the area. It has also launched a new website called corkstreetgalleries.com.
Pollen’s ownership of property comprises over four acres made up of 43 freehold properties in Savile Row, Cork Street, Bond Street and surrounding areas. It is part owned by The Crown Estate, in partnership with Norway’s investment arm.
Following the introduction of a new planning policy set by Westminster Council, Pollen must provide gallery space on the street.
Rents for the new spaces have not been set but they are expected to be more than previous lease agreements with galleries there.
Ahead of the construction work a number of galleries left the area including Alan Cristea Gallery.