Johnny Sandelson is a UK businessman, entrepreneur and an expert in commercial and residential property development.
Johnny Sandelson, the UK businessman, entrepreneur and award-winning real estate developer was born in 1968 in London.
In 1990, after leaving university he worked for Nelson Bakewell Ltd before launching his career developing and refurbishing properties. From 1991 – 1995 he led the refurbishment of over thirty residential developments including apartments and houses in Central London.
In 1995 he stepped-up his ambition and worked with ORMS Architecture Design on the award-winning 30,000 sq. ft. conversion of a Victorian school in Highgate Hill to form flats and houses. The scheme was driven by a desire to establish a memorable identity and to market a lifestyle. Double-height flats were created with sculptural mezzanine walls and strong warm colours. It introduced the concept of ‘loft living’ to Central London and established a quality of apartment in outer areas of North London which had seldom been seen before. The Highgate Academy was recognised by the National House-Building Council (NHBC) with a design award.
Between 1995 – 2001 Johnny Sandelson was a driving force behind a number of companies, leading over fifty different property transactions in the UK varying in size from 3,000 sq. ft. to 80,000 sq. ft., while managing large teams of consultants and advisors. A number of the projects won design awards, received international acclaim and brought significant profitability to shareholders and investors. As part of the process he managed construction programmes varying in size up to the £20 million Forset Court redevelopment in 2000, which saw a grand nine-storey, 1930s mansion erected in Central London.
In 2002 Johnny Sandelson was appointed CEO of Ampersand Group Limited, a real estate business based in the West Midlands. His vision was to create a unique beach resort development in St Austell. He assembled a world class team of leisure operators, hoteliers, consultants and designers to tackle a complex political and technical challenge. He proposed the now-renowned 1,000,000 sq. ft. Carlyon Bay resort which has a gross domestic value (GDV) of £250 million. Initially the scheme was met with a mixture of support and scepticism from locals, but he steered a delicate course through local politics before resigning as Chief Executive of Ampersand and passing the development stage of the scheme to his financial partners. Despite his resignation as CEO he retained a significant financial interest in the Carlyon Bay scheme. In June 2011 Cornwall councillors voted unanimously in favour of planning consent for the Carlyon Bay development. The proposed £250 million beach resort is one of the largest private property investments in Cornwall. The scheme incorporated large commercial and residential elements, as well as significant infrastructure work.
In 2004, Johnny Sandelson broke new ground when he launched GuestInvest, the UK’s first hotel buy-to-let scheme. Two years later he purchased Bayswater and City property, as well as the world-famous Blakes Hotel, where he secured a debt and equity package of £240 million. In Autumn 2008 GuestInvest unfortunately fell victim to the global financial crisis and the company was put into administration. Its legacy was proof that a company, through innovation, was able to establish a new asset class. This was recognised by Ernst & Young with a nomination – for Johnny Sandelson – as Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008.
During this period Johnny Sandelson also continued to be involved in unlocking a mixed use leisure and residential scheme in St John’s Wood, London, working with institutions and a large team of professional advisers. The scheme has a total value of £800 million and incorporates large commercial and residential elements.
Johnny Sandelson has negotiated with some of the major estates in London as well as agreeing successful planning consent with more than seven of the inner London authorities. He also negotiated a complex development strategy with the Portman Estate, a large West End development of flats which has holdings north of Oxford Street comprising over one hundred residential units. Johnny Sandelson has overseen the development and planning consent of circa 300,000 sq. ft. in Central London.
Despite working on large schemes he continues to oversee smaller property developments, such as the innovative Pencalenick House scheme. The luxury Cornish retreat received notable recognition including the Caradon Design Award for Best Overall Scheme in New Housing Category 2007 and the RIBA South West Award 2009. Pencalenick House has been described by property experts as an example of ‘contemporary and ecologically sound architecture’.
Since 2009, Johnny Sandelson has been working with Asian partners to establish a fund focussing on British iconic and strategic assets with numerous property transactions in Oxford and Bath including a joint venture with Blenheim Palace.