Bridges property sales highlight SME demand for long leaseholds in the Midlands
- St Paul’s Square in Birmingham and Newton Court in Wolverhampton both proved attractive to SME buyers
- Bridges sold the individual units within the two buildings at an average price of £110 per sq. ft. and £175 per sq. ft. respectively, having carried out extensive refurbishment work to make the buildings more attractive to SMEs
- The buildings are helping to support local businesses in two of the most deprived areas of the country
The Bridges Sustainable Property Fund, managed by sustainable and impact investor Bridges Ventures (“Bridges”), announces that all the units within two Midlands-based SME office buildings – St Paul’s Square in Birmingham, and Newton Court in Wolverhampton – have now been sold on a long-leasehold basis.
Both buildings have benefited from strong demand to acquire long-leasehold property from local SMEs, who are looking to find high-quality space that also offers an opportunity for capital growth.
St. Paul’s Square is a 20,000 sq. ft. Grade II-listed former jewellery workshop located in Birmingham, one of the 3% most deprived local authorities in the country. After acquiring the building in January 2013 – when it was only 40% occupied – Bridges completed an extensive refurbishment that incorporated a number of sustainable features, including energy-efficient lighting and heating systems. The property was subsequently converted into 25 office units (plus a ground floor restaurant) and successfully marketed to SMEs as long-leasehold sales at an average of £175 per sq. ft.
Part of Pendeford Business Park in Wolverhampton, Newton Court comprises over 23,000 sq. ft. of office space in nine self-contained units. The property is located within Wolverhampton Local Authority, which is in the bottom 6% most deprived local authorities in the country and suffers from a low number of growth businesses. The investment enabled the growth of an SME hub to support engineering and manufacturing businesses located in the i54 Business park opposite, home to the new £450m Jaguar Land Rover factory. Originally acquired in October 2013, the individual units were refurbished and offered for sale at £110 per sq. ft., on a long-leasehold basis, to local businesses and SMEs wishing to own and occupy their own properties.
KWB acted as the agent for St. Paul’s Square, and jointly with Bulleys for Newton Court.
Bridges has a long history of buying and redeveloping under-utilised SME office space to boost occupancy and improve the building’s sustainable credentials. Other examples include 158/170 Edmund Street in Birmingham, Elmbridge Court near Gloucester and 6 East Parade in Leeds.
Guy Bowden, partner at Bridges Ventures, said:
“Affordable, high-quality SME office space can play an important role in supporting economic regeneration and boosting local employment. Both St Paul’s Square and Newton Court are good examples of how thoughtful refurbishment of semi-vacant buildings can bring them back into economic use and tap into the latent demand from local businesses. They also highlight the recent trend for SMEs to want to own their own offices, which gives them greater control of their destiny and allows them to benefit from capital growth as the area regenerates.”
Amy Williams, Redleaf PR
T +44 (0)20 7382 4742
NOTES TO EDITORS
About The Bridges Sustainable Property Fund
The Bridges Sustainable Property Fund is an entrepreneurial fund that targets niche real estate opportunities driven by demographic shifts and changing consumer needs in areas like healthcare, education, SME business space and affordable residential accommodation. It seeks to make property investments – either directly or via joint ventures – that have the potential to make strong financial returns as well as delivering social and environmental impact.
About Bridges Ventures
Bridges Ventures is a specialist fund manager focused exclusively on sustainable and impact investment, with offices in London and New York. Since 2002, the firm has now raised almost £800m across its Sustainable Growth, Property and Social Sector funds in the U.K. and the U.S. It invests in high-impact SMEs, properties and social sector organisations that are helping to solve some of society’s biggest challenges, with a focus on four key impact ‘themes’: health & wellbeing, education & skills, sustainable living and underserved markets.
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