Half of the galleries on Cork Street in Mayfair, one of London’s most established art hubs, face being priced out and forced to leave as Landowner, the Pollen Estate signs as multimillion pound contract to redevelop the site. Hay Hill, Bernard Jacobson and Messum’s and Petleys will be affected. The proposals come six weeks after seven galleries on the opposite side of the street were given notice to vacate as soon as next year following Standard Life Investments’ agreement of a £90 million deal to turn the building into luxury apartments. Developer Native Land plans to demolish numbers 22-27 Cork Street, a stretch which includes the street’s oldest dealership, the Mayor Gallery. Founded by Fred Mayor (1903-1973) in 1925, many artists exhibited for the first time in England at the Mayor Gallery and included, amongst others, Bacon, Calder, Ernst, Klee, Masson, Miro and Paolozzi. The Mayor Gallery was also the centre of UNIT ONE, a group lead by Paul Nash and whose key members included Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Paul Nash, Edward Wadsworth, Edward Burra and Herbert Read.
Simon Tarrant of the Alpha Gallery, which will be forced out under the Native Land deal, said: “Even if Native Land, or the Pollen Estate, make promises of earmarking retail space for galleries, none of the small independent British art dealers, such as Alpha Gallery, will be able to afford the inevitable quadrupled rents that will result from this development.
What Native Land and the Pollen Estate have completely overlooked is the devastating impact being forced off Cork Street will have on the independent British art dealers whose business stretch back several generations.”
A petition against both projects will be submitted to Westminster council yet it is unlikely that the campaigners will succeed in preventing the affected gallery spaces from being converted into residential and alternative retail spaces.