An American company, Ashkenazy Acquisition, has purchased one of London's most historic sites, Old Spitalfields Market, for £105 million.

The Grade II-listed site is in the East End of London, the area where the 19th-century serial killer Jack the Ripper attacked prostitutes.

The property was put on the market last month, said Ballymore Properties Ltd, which sold the development to Ashkenazy.

The deal is London's largest retail investment this year, according to data compiled by Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

Ballymore had bought the market for £8m, spent £25m on renovating it, and subsequently collected £28m of net rental income.

Michael Alpert, the president and vice-chairman of Ashkenazy, told the Times that the company was "excited that our first acquisition in London is a property with such profile, similar to other properties we have throughout the United States".

He added: "This is the first of many planned acquisitions in the London market."

Old Spitalfields Market, built on the site of a Roman cemetery, has seen rising values and renovations in the last several years because of its proximity to the financial centre.

It is also close to the technology hub known as Silicon Roundabout and the nightlife of the Shoreditch neighbourhood. The area is one of London's top 10 visitor attractions, with restaurants and fashion shops, according to its website.

In the 19<sup>th century, Spitalfields was known as the worst criminal area of London with lodging-houses in the Flower and Dean Street area a focus for the activities of robbers and prostitutes.

In 1881, Dean Street was called "perhaps the foulest and most dangerous street in the metropolis".

Nearby Dorset Street was called "the worst street in London". It was here that a young woman named Mary Kelly was killed in her lodgings by Jack the Ripper in 1888.