HIGHCROSS, one of the country's leading investors in UK office and industrial markets, is about to unveil multi-million-pound plans for the development of what will be the second largest commercial and business park in Scotland.
It will be at the former IBM site at Greenock, which has been called Spango Valley – and has now been re-branded by Highcross as Valley Park.
IBM still occupies about 200,000sq ft on the 60-acre site – and Highcross's plans for the other 400,000sq ft have already brought in inquiries from potential occupiers.
Associate director Mark Evans, who heads the Newbury-based company's Scottish office in Glasgow, said: "We have kept our plans pretty well under wraps, but we are now ready to go.
"A full design team has been on board for over a year and we have been working closely with the local authority.
"The masterplan involves some demolition, redevelopment and some refurbishment to open up the space. There is a canteen and dedicated rail halt on site. We are currently in advanced stages of discussions with a number of occupiers to take space and hope to have something agreed within the coming weeks.
"Our aim is to open up the site to provide mixed-use commercial and business park facilities, which will offer a range of office and building space and industrial sites to meet the needs of existing companies in the Inverclyde area wishing to consolidate and expand and at the same time be attractive to incoming businesses."
Highcross acquired the site and three others down south from IBM in 2005 in a sale-and-lease-back deal for about 120 million. Last year, IBM declared a number of buildings within the Greenock park as surplus to requirements and exercised a number of break options in accordance with its lease.
Space in Valley Park will be available on a flexible and competitive basis, with 3,000sq ft and upwards in office and industrial space. Joint agents are Ryden and James McGee Greenock.
Highcross last year raised close to 1.5 billion, mostly from United States-based investors, with debt finance provided by the Royal Bank of Scotland and a syndicate of banks, for its third investment fund
Evans says: "We have a three-year investment period from September last year. We have a lot of work to do and we are looking for further opportunities."
From this third fund, it has paid 2 million for Wallace House, a five-storey modern office building in Stirling, which had been owned by a house-building firm that went into receivership. It has some sound tenants, including the Secretary of State for the Environment, and had a potential total annual income of about 320,000
In Edinburgh, and also from this fund, it paid Kenmore 7.76 million for two whisky bonds in Leith – the Bonnington Bond and the Sugar Bond, which have a total of 75,202sq ft. It was regarded as a key investment requirement with an opportunity to add value.
Both bonds have been refurbished, are partially occupied and are being made available at rents which reflect a market that is in the favour of tenants. Evans states: "We knew that it was going to be a tough market, which means that the deals we are offering are very competitive."
Rents for the two bonds have been around the 16 to 17 mark, but there is now a significant discount on this.
Peter Fleming, of agent Montagu Evans, said Highcross was a flexible landlord. He explained that a lot of tenants might find it difficult to get funding for fitting-out and said that providing this could be part of the deal, as well as reduced rents over an extended period.
A 3m boost for regeneration projects
RUTHERGLEN Park, the 45,700sq ft light industrial development built by SCOT Sheridan on a spec basis, has been snapped up by the Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company, virtually as soon as it was completed. The price was not disclosed but was understood to be just over 3 million.
Steve Pritchard, executive director of development at Clyde Gateway, said it wanted to offer high-quality spaces to businesses and firms which require to be re-located as a result of the regeneration efforts within the East End of Glasgow and parts of South Lanarkshire. SCOT Sheridan was represented by Ryden and DTZ.
THE Drum Property Group has paid 930,000 for the vacant former HBOS bank in Union Street, Aberdeen, which has 1,926sq ft on the ground floor, 2,415sq ft on the first, 911sq ft in the basement, and 813sq ft on the second. Drum will now refurbish the building – Tesco has taken a pre-let on the ground floor and basement and the rest will be let or sold. Drum was represented by FG Burnett, with Eric Young for HBOS.
GUNN Property Consultants has wrapped up two more deals for outdoor clothing and accessories retailer Mountain Warehouse. In Fort William it has taken the former Woolworths store on a ten-year lease at a rent of 90,000, with 12 months' rent free. The landlord is the President & Scholars of St John Baptist, advised by Reith Lambert. And in Ayr it has taken 183-185 High Street on a ten-year lease, paying 55,000 with 12 months' rent free. The landlord, BTM Motors, was advised by Gee & Co and CWM.
CASHMERE specialist Brora is to open its first Scottish store in Edinburgh, taking a 2,537sq ft store at 48 Frederick Street at an annual rental of 38,000. Isla Monteith of Cushman & Wakefield, which acted for Brora (Links CPC for the landlord), said the deal shows that, despite the current economic climate and the disruption caused by the tram works, high-profile brands are still acquiring premises in the city centre.
BAGUETTE Express is to open in the Maxim office park development in Lanarkshire – the largest of its kind in the UK. It has agreed a deal to operate a 1,453 sq ft unit, taking a ten-year lease term at an initial annual rent of 25,000. Maxim says it is in negotiation with a number of tenants and further announcements of new deals will be made soon.
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