Investor interest sparked by Hull’s City of Culture status is being credited for the burgeoning commercial and residential market which has brought the completion of acquisitions worth almost £10 million in the city centre alone since late 2016.
Garness Jones chartered surveyors has sealed deals with purchasers from the local area and from much further afield for a variety of properties to a total of nearly 240,000 square feet.
Activity began to pick up from the autumn of 2016 when Hull-based developers Allenby Commercial bought Blundell’s Corner from Daily Mail & General Trust, former owners of the Hull Daily Mail.
Hull’s daily newspaper still occupies the top floor of the property at the corner of Beverley Road and Spring Bank and Allenbys are currently working on refurbishment of the remainder of the building to create The Worx, a high-quality office and leisure facility which will welcome its first tenants in the spring and offers space from 1,000 to 20,000 square feet.
Elsewhere in the city centre the focus has been on retail, leisure and residential projects through a combination of imaginative property conversions and redundant buildings being brought back to life.
Paul White, Agency Director at Garness Jones, said the level of activity in Hull city centre is unprecedented in his experience.
He said: “The 12 months from late 2016 has been the best and busiest period in the 10 years that I have been with Garness Jones. The numbers are remarkable, with a total of 237,210 square feet being sold for £9,515,000. We know from talking to the investors that City of Culture has been the key factor for them, and businesses in the region are entitled to be buoyed by that confidence.”
Landmark projects include the conversion of King William House, a former office block of 80,000 square feet in Market Place, into 30 apartments with four ground floor commercial units. In nearby High Street, Garness Jones concluded the sale late in 2017 of 25 apartments at New North Bridge House, a former warehouse dating back 150 years and undergoing modernisation having been converted for residential use in the late 1980s.
At the junction of George Street and Jameson Street, Garness Jones completed deals with separate developers from South Yorkshire for the former TSB bank and the vacant Chinese Buffet restaurant, both of which are undergoing conversion for ground floor leisure use with apartments on the upper floors.
Only yards away, the practice sold the derelict Edwin Davis building, which is now earmarked to form part of a new development comprising Albion Street car park and the former BHS and Co-operative stores, and estimated to be worth around £130 million to Hull’s economy.
Paul said: “Tivoli House, which in the 1970s housed the Hull office of Zurich insurance, is fully-let as ground floor retail and has permitted development of former offices on the upper floors to create 30 apartments. There are also plans for residential conversion at Liberty House in the Old Town.
“At the beginning of 2017 there was an over-supply of secondary office stock which saturated the market. Permitted development opportunities then took a lot of the lower quality stock out of the office market as developers bought some properties for conversion to residential.
“Where there have been opportunities to improve offices, they have been developed and refurbished. This is enabling businesses to move into a good working environment, and the combination of that plus the residential conversions and the rising interest in retail, leisure and residential opportunities is helping us to work towards creating a sustainable city centre along the lines of other major northern cities.
“The likes of Arco, Spencer Group, RB and Smith & Nephew are all improving Hull and investing in the city and the SMEs are also working as a business community to improve the city centre. The year has highlighted that Hull presents significant opportunities for investors, with good people and good buildings.”