Companies have had a glimpse of the future workplace in Middlesbrough as the team behind the new £22m Centre Square development announced the first building is open for business.
Speaking it a special event to mark the readiness of the 34,000 sq ft office space, developer Mark Ashall described it as “a truly stunning building.”
It was the only available Grade A office space in Middlesbrough, he said, and the flexible and energy efficient design had created a high-quality working environment designed to promote staff well-being and productivity.
The completed building – Building 2 – is part of a major development which is expected to bring thousands of jobs into the centre of Middlesbrough. Building 1 is nearly finished and there is planning permission for the second phase of the project, which will see the construction of three further buildings.
Mr Ashall, who is the head of Ashall Projects, told the directors and managers of businesses who had been invited to look around the finished building: “We believe employers who move to Centre Square will find it easier to attract and retain staff – and the staff will thrive in this environment.”
The development has excellent access to bus and rail services. It is close to Teesside University, Middlesbrough College, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and town centre shops and amenities.
Richard Wilson, senior associate with Middlesbrough-based chartered surveyors and property consultants Dodds Brown, said no new Grade A office space had been created in the town since the 2008 recession. As a result many companies were having to operate in sub-standard accommodation which made it difficult to attract new staff. Centre Square will change that.
“It is a key part of Middlesbrough Council’s vision to transform the town centre by creating both high quality jobs and high quality homes,” he said.
“There is real excitement within the business community at what’s been created here. There is a growing realisation about the ambition of the town and how this will become the business hub for the Tees Valley. We are already seeing occupiers moving back into the town centre to be part of that,” he said.
“We have the space and we are on the radar of many businesses,” said Mr Wilson, who confirmed that a number of potential occupiers are already showing an interest in all phases of the Centre Square development.
Alex Hailey – director of commercial property agent CBRE – said he was also confident that employers from outside the Tees Valley would think about a move to Centre Square because of the lack of Grade A office space in other regional markets and the lower occupational costs in Middlesbrough. Centre Square is available at a quoting rent of £18.50 per sq ft per annum compared to headline rents in the likes of Newcastle and Leeds which are currently £24.50 per sq.ft. and £30 per sq.ft. respectively.
Kevin Parkes, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Director of Growth and Place, said good progress was being made on the council’s plans to build new homes. “One of our biggest objectives is to bring good quality urban living into the middle of Middlesbrough and there are a number of schemes that we are considering in that regard as well,” he said.
Work began 12 months ago on the first phase of the Centre Square development. Building 2 offers flexible space to meet the needs of employers. It is designed to allow floors to be split efficiently to accommodate a range of office sizes.
There will be ground floor restaurants and coffee bars at Centre Square and all employees will be able to enrol in an occupier scheme offering a range of benefits.