With a tussle for ownership of the Whitgift Centre in Croydon between Hammerson and Westfield one of the more interesting spectacles of the commercial property scene in 2012, the curtain raiser for 2013 is the decision by Legal & General to instruct the sale of it's holdings at the site, no doubt with a view to obtaing a premium to it's normal market value of around £50 million.

Jones Lang LaSalle it is understood have been instructed to sell 60-70 North End and 100-108 and 1103-1109 Whitgift Centre, Croydon. Part of this 70,000 sq ft is a freehold and part on a long lease from the Whitgift Foundation, which encapsulates the complexity of this site, from an ownership point of view.

The tenants in the offerd property are principally H&M on the ground floor, with smaller units occupied by Wallis, Foot Locker and Superdrug. On the first floor there are five units. The Whitgift Centre is at the core of Croydon's shopping, so is the prime retail pitch in South London, with an annual footfall of around 28 million.

Both Hammerson and Westfield see the Whitgift Centre as central to their strategy, Hammerson on the one hand has a deal with the freehold owner Whitgift Foundation ( which also owns 25% of the leasehold) to redevelop the site, while IBRC ( the former Anglo Irish Bank) owns  50% of the leasehold and selected Hammerson to be it's development partner. Hammerson strengthened it's hand by buying the remaining 25% of the leasehold from Royal London Asset Management  for £65 million late last year.

Plans have been submitted by both putative developers and a final decision on them is anticipated in the next few weeks, so timing on this marketing could not be better.