Office refurbishment and regeneration case studies

When there is so little new stock of offices available within the office market, office refurbishment comes to the fore. It is then essential to review existing commercial property and refurbish it comprehensively to provide ‘as new’ office space. Replacing and upgrading key facets of the building, such as the mechanical and electrical systems (M&E), are all important here – more so than ever before – as occupiers desire commercial property that meets the Grade ‘A’ standard for efficiency, productivity and sustainability.

Working together with commercial property developers, we transform former buildings into contemporary office developments and breathe new life into neglected and under-managed properties through a programme of refurbishment, comprehensive marketing and new lettings. In advising on office refurbishment, KWB draws on its wealth of experience not only within sales and lettings, but also from its multi-disciplinary commercial property practice, which includes commercial property and asset management and KWB Workplace, a consultancy which project manages the design, and fit out and move into an occupier’s new premises.

10 Temple Street

Location: Birmingham city centre

Client: Freshwater Group

Size: 35,707 sq ft

KWB was instructed to market 10 Temple Street by purchasers, Freshwater Group, having advised on an extensive office refurbishment and overhaul of M&E provisions.

KWB recognised, just as Freshwater did, that this property’s location made it highly desirable within Birmingham city centre, and that a high-profile building merits the further investment of thorough restructuring and repositioning.

10 Temple Street was completely stripped back to its frame, allowing the office refurbishment to include installation of all new M&E, such as lifts, LED lighting and comfort cooling services. All common areas, including the main entrance and reception, were also remodelled and upgraded, with the reception featuring an innovative disabled sesame lift, which folds away into the building’s stairs at the push of a button, when not in use. Externally, 10 Temple Street received new signage and a brand new façade, including a refreshed entrance and cladding to reflect the modern and high quality office space inside.

10 Temple Street is located on the thoroughfare that links Grand Central and New Street station, within the Colmore Business District, making it a critical area both for offices and retail units, such as shops and restaurants. The convenience offered by the flexible floorplates, from 4,909 sq ft, increases the overall appeal of the property – with today’s occupiers appreciating the ability to adjust office space to meet their current and ongoing needs.

With all works completed, and with the building’s location in mind, 10 Temple Street demands quoting rents from £19.95 per sq ft – with leases being secured from the moment the offices came to market.

Guildhall Buildings

Location: Birmingham city centre

Client: Oval Properties

Size: 18,744 sq ft

KWB was instructed on the Guildhall Buildings by owners, Oval Properties, who acquired the property with a view of repositioning to maximise both potential interest in the offices and secured lettings.

The Guildhall Buildings, although totalling 18,744 sq ft, consist of 28 individual office suites from 237 sq ft – giving the property an appeal to specific areas of the market. KWB advised on a refurbishment programme that took this into account.

The property benefits from an excellent location – immediately adjacent to Grand Central and New Street station. The offices provide unparalleled transport links as, in addition to the train station, both tram and bus services run in the immediate vicinity.

Due in no small part to its location, Guildhall Buildings had the potential to be an extremely desirable property within the market – particularly for smaller businesses in search of convenience.

KWB saw the potential of such a well-positioned property, and this informed the advice given for office refurbishment.

Save from raised access flooring, which is most suited to open plan space, the quality of the refurbishment was far higher than the market norm for office space of this type – living up to the demands of the upper end of the market.

A full overhaul of M&E was suggested, which was carried out, and the works included: new lighting, floors, ceilings doors and WCs, a full redecoration and an all new lift system.

The result has been that the property has attracted appeal from both small companies with healthy turnover and even larger corporates seeking small pieces of additional space.

The level of quality now available at the property rivals the space provided by the serviced office world, for which an occupier would pay substantially more over a long-term occupancy.

31 Homer Road

Location: Solihull

Client: Topland Group

Size: 66,364 sq ft

KWB was instructed on this 66,364 sq ft, Solihull town centre office property by owners, investment group, Topland.

KWB advised on the £5m office refurbishment tailored to offer high quality, open plan office space – maximising its appeal to larger occupiers.

Larger occupiers within various industries are in search of office space in this area, particularly due to the excellent transport links to the rest of the country – however, supply is little and choices, few.

KWB has frequently said in its office market review in recent years that property investors/developers who own space in Solihull and along the M42 corridor should refurbish space to high specification, to attract larger occupiers. This is because new office space is almost non-existent here, and so occupiers are looking for the highest quality office space available.

In light of this, KWB provided advice on the M&E overhaul – which was seen as crucial to secure occupiers.

Refurbishment works included: 3 pipe VRV air conditioning system, LG7 compliant LED lighting, automatic electronic solar blinds and clear raised access floors.

50-54 St Paul's Square

Location: Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham city centre

Client: Bridges Ventures

Size: 23,000 sq ft

KWB was instructed by investors, Bridges Ventures, both to acquire and, subsequently, market this building of Jewellery Quarter offices. The property is made up of 23 office suites, which are re-purposed, former jewellery workshops.

Investment group, and owners, Bridges Ventures are well-known for investing in regeneration projects, and bringing the standard of existing commercial property up to meet the demands of the modern office occupier.

Located in the picturesque niche market of St Paul’s Square, popular with the design and property consultancy fraternity, KWB advised on the office refurbishment, which included: re-decoration utilising an exposed surface aesthetic, carpeting and perimeter trunking.

It was decided that 50-54’s office suites would be made available to purchase, freehold. As such the building would offer a rare investment opportunity to buy small offices, for small to medium sized businesses with the working capital to do so.

Since the staggered programme of refurbishment began, 50-54 St Paul’s Square has seen a flurry of sales each time a batch of newly refurbished offices has been completed.

The quality of the refurbished space, its location, and the unique character of the building – both inside and out – has attracted a wide range of owner-occupiers, from media to recruitment, and legal to financial services.

2920 Trident Court

Location: Birmingham Business Park, Solihull

Client: BlackRock / Canmoor

Size: 26,500 sq ft

KWB was instructed by BlackRock and, asset managers, Canmoor on this substantial office property on Birmingham Business Park.

KWB regularly secures the dominant share of lettings in the Birmingham out-of-town office market, in Solihull and along the M42 corridor – with numerous notable successes across our Birmingham Business Park instructions – making us the ideal commercial property agent for such a property.

With no new office space available on the Park, KWB advised on what was the most extensive office refurbishment on the Park to date, which included: all new M&E provision consisting of new lifts, air conditioning and LED lighting, WCs, ceiling grid and tiles, reception, and a full re-decoration of the office space.

Part way through the refurbishment program, an institutional, 10-year lease on 2920 Trident Court’s entire 26,500 sq ft of office space was secured with Goodyear – who moved in once refurbishment work was complete. The letting achieved a rental value in excess of £20 per sq ft, which was possible due to the extent of the office refurbishment.