AN OFFICE development in Edinburgh has gone from empty to full in just nine months after signing a deal with Britain’s biggest charity.
Barnardo’s decision to take thousands of square feet at Birch House – a redevelopment within the former Ethicon sutures plant to the west of the city – is further evidence of an upturn in the fortunes of the commercial property market.
The charity is the final tenant to sign up at the building, which has been developed by Cosmopolitan Investments, run by Iain Mercer, the son of the late Wallace Mercer, former chairman of Hearts.
It follows the letting, last month, to Enable, another major charity which took a five-year lease on just over 1,100 square feet of space. The Barnardo’s agreement extends to 3,500sq ft on a ten-year lease.
In the second half of 2013, lettings were agreed with Stuttgart-based Dialog Semiconductor and US firm Hollander International Systems.
Mercer, managing director of Cosmopolitan, said: “Less than a year ago we had an empty building and now it is fully let at market rents for four excellent covenants.
“We spent £820,000 buying the building and the same again redeveloping it. About six months into the project Northern Rock collapsed and our own lender, Bank of Scotland, was starting to become concerned about the letting prospects.
“Then Norwegian firm Petroleum Geo-Services decided to enter into a pre-let agreement on the building and we managed to complete the development without exceeding the budget shortly before the credit crunch really started to bite.”
Petroleum Geo-Services moved out last year, leaving the building without any occupants.