Removal men began the process today of clearing out the old US Embassy in Mayfair ahead of the move to the state-of-the-art £750m building in Nine Elms.
The trucks were seen outside the Grosvenor Square building on the day President Donald Trump caused his latest diplomatic storm by cancelling a proposed trip to London.
President Trump criticised the location of the new building in his Tweet which announced he was no longer planning to visit London next month.
A removal van was spotted outside the old US embassy building in Mayfair earlier today
Donald Trump said he had no intention of attending the opening of the new £750m embassy
Trump took to Twitter to criticise the location of the new embassy in south London and attacked former President Barack Obama for agreeing to the deal even though the decision to move was signed-off by fellow Republican president George W Bush
President George W Bush signed a deal to move to the site in Battersea on the south side of the River Thames, leaving the historic embassy in Mayfair.
Trump wrote: ‘Reason I cancelled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!’
Earlier this month, the American flag was this month removed from the U.S. embassy in Grosvenor Square as part of the move to a location on the South Bank
The old United States Embassy in London was situated on a historic square in the exclusive Mayfair neighbourhood, home to some of the city’s most valuable real estate.
The U.S. embassy has been based on the square since 1938 and the area was known as ‘Little America’ during World War Two as General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military headquarters were housed on the square.
The Mayfair embassy opened in 1960 but was no longer fit for purpose as a result of new security considerations. Also, refurbishing the existing embassy was seen as prohibitive because the building was granted Grade II listed status in 2009
The US Embassy is moving from Grosvenor Square to Nine Elms near Vauxhall, pictured
The embassy, topped by a gilded bald eagle with a wingspan of more than 11 metres, opened in 1960 and was designed by the Finnish-American modernist Eero Saarinen.
The embassy was also a focus for British discontent with U.S. policy. Anti-Vietnam War protests in the 1960s drew thousand of Britons, including celebrities of the day like Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.
In 2008, when George W. Bush was president, the United States signed a conditional agreement to acquire a site for the construction of a new embassy in the Nine Elms area of Wandsworth, southwest London.
The new 12-storey building on the south bank of the river is at the heart of a huge regeneration project in a former industrial zone.
The U.S. State Department ran a competition to design the new building in 2008. Its £750 construction was wholly funded by the sale of other properties in London. It will open to the public later this month.
In 2009, the US embassy building in Mayfair was listed as a Grade II building including for ‘special architectural interest for the strongly-articulated design and dynamic facades, well-detailed stonework and consistency of detail.’
This would make it difficult to make certain alterations to the building and can reduce the value of properties.
Lydia Muniz, director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations at the State Department, told the New York Times in 2015 that renovating the building would have cost £600 million and still would not have provided state-of-the-art security.
In 2009, when Barack Obama was president, the United States agreed to sell its embassy in Mayfair to the Gulf investor Qatari Diar for an undisclosed sum to help fund a new embassy.
The embassy says the new building was funded entirely by the proceeds of the sale of other U.S. government properties in London, not through appropriated funds.
Local media reported the old building was sold for £500 million pounds.
The investors are now planning to turn the site into a luxury hotel with shops, restaurants and bars.