Atria disposal to be top property sale in 2015

Cllr Frank Ross. Picture: Contributed
Cllr Frank Ross. Picture: Contributed
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CITY leaders are looking to close the circle on the prolonged extension of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) in what could become one of 2015’s largest property transactions anywhere in Scotland.

The Atria development in the capital’s Exchange financial district is expected to fetch in the region of £100 million after being put on the market by Edinburgh City Council. Split between two buildings, it comprises nearly 200,000sq ft of Grade A office and retail space.

Built with support from Scottish Enterprise and borrowings against future revenue, the Atria development was designed to cross-subsidise the £35m expansion of the EICC, which was delayed by private sector setbacks in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis. The conference centre extension, which opened in May 2013, is credited with what leaders have described as the EICC’s strongest trading period on record in 2015.

Proceeds from the sale of the office development will be used to pay off development costs at the EICC and Atria, which together amounted to an £85m investment. Frank Ross, convener of the council’s economy committee, right, said current economic conditions would allow the city to achieve “the best possible return” on its investment.

“Atria provides much-needed Grade A office space for Edinburgh and gives the city a competitive advantage in attracting new and retaining existing businesses,” he said. “This is reflected in the extremely impressive tenant list.”

The buildings are currently about 70 per cent let to tenants such as Alliance Trust, the Law Society of Scotland, PwC and the UK Green Investment Bank. Retail occupiers include Co-Operative Food and Café Klaris.

JLL and Montagu Evans have been appointed selling agents in what has proven to be a buoyant year for Scottish property transactions.

Earlier this month, Rockspring Property closed a £45.1m deal to buy Annan House in Aberdeen from oil and gas explorer EnQuest. That was followed by the £60.7m acquisition of three buildings at Atlantic Quay in Glasgow by Moorfield Group and its joint venture partner, Resonance Capital, while prime Edinburgh office block Westport 102 recently exchanged hands in a £32.2m deal.

Described as one of the most sustainable developments in Edinburgh, Atria was the only UK speculative development of more than 100,000sq ft to come on stream in early 2013 outside of London and the south-east. The buildings feature green sedum roofs, energy efficient lifts and electric car charging spaces.

Colin Finlayson, director at JLL, said Atria’s design and sustainability credentials make it a high-profile investment. “The sale of Atria represents a rare opportunity to purchase a best-in-class development and it comes at a time when investor demand is strong,” he said.