House of Fraser’s Oxford Street store becomes mixed-use asset

From department store to office-led mixed-use development: a familiar route for House of Fraser’s former flagship in London’s Oxford Street, which is being revamped in a £132 million project which will include a gym and swimming pool on the lower ground floor, retail and restaurant on the ground floor and offices on the seven floors above.

What the revamped building on Oxford Street, called Elephant, will look like. Credit: Studio PDP

The new building will be named “Elephant” and is set to be completed by the end of next year. The 35,000 sq m development will have offices from the first to the seventh floor, while a new eighth floor will be added with a rooftop restaurant and a terrace with 360-degree views over Central London.

The aim, according to project managers MGAC, is to “bring greater diversity to Oxford Street, enhance the retail experience and help develop an evening economy”.

MGAC and contractors McLaren have sought to retain as much of the period building’s original structure and Portland stone façade as possible, despite the problems linked to the early 20th Century practice of cladding steel structures in masonry, which crumbles over time. In 2019 netting had to be put around the department store to stop crumbling stone falling onto the pavement below.

The newly created top floor will have a restaurant with terraces offering 360 degree views over Central London. Credit: Studio PDP

“Through a heritage-led approach, the project was designed to preserve and enhance,” MGAC stated. “The new façade is consistent with the style, detailing, and materials of the existing building. A set-back eighth floor is a lightweight extension which complements the existing building, providing an elegant and defined crown without appearing dominant.”

The 1930s Art Deco building at 318 Oxford Street was originally built for DH Evans and had eight and a half acres of retail space. In 1987 it was renamed House of Fraser, but the department store was closed in 2022 when the landlord, Publica Properties Establishment, based in Liechtenstein, served notice on Frasers Group.

Debenhams, another famous department store on Oxford Street, also closed down and is being repurposed as an office-led development.

Marks & Spencer is involved in a legal battle with the government which wants to block plans to demolish the Art Deco flagship store in Oxford Street and replace it with a contemporary mixed-use building with less retail and more offices.