Independent property consultancy Hartnell Taylor Cook led its annual tour of Bristol for property investors yesterday, with the renaissance of the St Philips area, a shift in the make-up of Park Street and the generational change happening at Temple Quay among the highlights.
HTC has now held the Commercial Property Review presentation and tour for more than 20 years, the event becoming a fixture for many figures from the institutions, funds and property companies financial institutions and property funds eager to gain valuable insight into developments in the city’s markets from the firm’s team of specialists. More than 60 guests joined the 2019 tour, travelling from London, Scotland and other parts of the country.
Ian Lambert, partner at the firm, said: “Such is the level of activity in Bristol across investment, office and industrial development, and the retail/leisure and alternative classes, that the Commercial Property Review is an essential update for our clients. This tour gives us the opportunity to showcase some hugely exciting projects that will have lasting change for the city and create opportunities into the future.”
The 2019 tour started with a presentation by Barra Mac Ruairi, chief property officer of the University of Bristol, on the plans for a business-led enterprise campus on the former Royal Mail sorting office site – a transformational project on a gateway site.
The tour then moved through St Phillips onto the North Bristol commercial markets, where rolling refurbishment and regeneration programmes are set to continue providing businesses seeking property with high-quality options – Aztec West, a first-generation business park, currently has several buildings undergoing redevelopment.
Chris Grazier, office agency partner, said: “The layout and overall design of Aztec West has stood the test of time brilliantly – there’s an open, landscaped feel that remains desirable, and it remains a prime location.
“What we’re seeing now are some buildings that have changed hands being brought forward by their new owners to offer space in a well-established market.”
Buildings currently under development, to be re-presented to the market over 2019, include 200 Aztec West, Bristol’s newest listed building, which is now owned by The Hillview Group. At the 600 building, a record rent for North Bristol has been set, while the largest refurbishment project in Bristol has been completed at 800 Aztec West, where landlord London & Scottish has already secured Edvance and the MoD on more than 80% of the building.
Grazier added: “Improved infrastructure, with the first parts of the £250m MetroBus network and the £14m Stoke Gifford bypass now open, are yet another factor in favour of the North Bristol business parks.”
In a challenging retail environment, landlords within the Park Street and Triangle pitch are looking to maximise their revenue-generating capabilities. Director James Woodard explains: “While Park Street and the Triangle have seen several departures that is being offset to an extent by retailers moving in, such as Backyard into the former Cau, while a retailer is being lined up at the former Byron unit. Operators seeking change of use from retail to bars is also a theme, with a notable deal being a rum distillery set to open in the former Jamie’s Italian space.
“There are two buildings on Park Street where owners are currently converting upper floors to residential, while 44-46 Queens Road, with Paperchase and Vinegar Hill at ground floor, sold well with vacant possession of 28 bedrooms in 7 cluster flats above.
“Although there are several large projects in the works, central Bristol is still under-supplied in residential compared to other core cities, and producing high-quality apartments in these environments can provide excellent returns and a solution to the dead space above retail.”
Potentially strengthening this shift, one of Bristol’s largest retail holdings, The Galleries shopping centre, was bought in February this year by LaSalle Investment Management for £32.1m – HTC predicts that the upper floors may be repurposed away from retail.
Some key points from the Commercial Property Review:
Office development now under way, after some cautious years, including Axa-Bellhammer with The Assembly and Royal London Asset Management’s Glassfields. High quality refurbishments include 101 Victoria Street and Temple Point. More than 300,000 sq ft is to be delivered in the next two years in a city entre market that has seen 1m sq ft of old stock removed from changes of use.
A record office rent of £35 per sq ft was achieved at Aurora, Finzels Reach – this was for 3,194 sq ft, with larger deals coming in at £33.75 per sq ft. A new headline rent of £36 per sq ft is expected in the city in 2019.