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Is Birmingham Getting More Luxurious?

The data sets on luxury are few in number, and not very reliable. Surely there must be other ways to measure what feels like an uptick in Birmingham's high-end real estate offer?

Bisnow explores what is happening on the ground.

1. Count The Michelin Stars

Ivy restaurant, Temple Row, Birmingham Feb 2018
How the new Ivy Restaurant, Temple Row, will look

Counting the number of Michelin-starred restaurants in Birmingham has long been a favoured way to guage the city's upscale offer. As data sets go it was particularly appealing, because Birmingham came out at the top of the regional leagues, and miles ahead of Manchester (which has zero Michelin stars).

The 2018 Michelin Guide was, however, a disappointment. The number of Michelin starred restaurants was down — four in 2018, compared to five in 2017.

Perhaps new developments will change this? The hoardings are still up at The Ivy Collection's new 7K SF restaurant at Temple Row, but work on site is proceeding apace. The former Louis Vuitton boutique is being converted to provide 135 covers.

Inside, The Ivy Collection’s signature green colour palette will be contrasted with striking burnt orange banquettes and polished marble floors.

2. Count The Luxury Sales Assistant Vacancies

Virgile + Partners stunning rethink of the Harvey Nichols department store, Mailbox, Birmingham 2015
Virgile + Partners stunning rethink of the Harvey Nichols department store, Mailbox, Birmingham

Harvey Nichols, which occupies 45K SF designed by Virgile + Partners at the Mailbox, Birmingham, heads a long list of luxury fashion retailers in the city. OK, Louis Vuitton has vacated Temple Row so the Ivy can move in — but Birmingham still has plenty more to offer.

Cruise the recruitment consultants and you will find there are more than 70 luxury sales assistants jobs now available in the city and its immediate environs. Those looking to recruit include footwear icon Kurt Geiger and swanky London jeweller Aspinals.

Bisnow readers thinking of a mid-career pivot to luxury retail could improve their chances of finding the dream job by signing up for a course in luxury brand management at Birmingham City University. There is still time to register ahead of a September start.

3. Watch Investment Yields Go Down

Interior at 55 Colmore Row, Birmingham
Interior at 55 Colmore Row, Birmingham

If the care with which office developers approach refurbishments — and the prices they achieve on re-sale — are any guide, then Birmingham is definitely getting more luxurious.

Last month IM Properties sold 55 Colmore Row, Birmingham to TH Real Estate for £98M, describing the 158K SF block as "as prime as you can get". The yield was a low-as-they-go 4.9%, according to CoStar.

"The redevelopment of the building was a real labour of love and we poured much of the company's heart and soul into it," IM Properties Investment Director John Hammond said.

It is a sign of the sense of luxury that the building's high level security provision — see the access gates in the image — fits so neatly into the sumptuousness of the former banking hall.

4. Watch Appartment Prices Go Up

Interior of Court Collaboration's plans for Axium, Windmill Hill, Holloway Head, Birmingham
Interior of Court Collaboration's plans for Axium, Windmill Hill, Holloway Head, Birmingham

City-centre apartment prices have been heading north for some time, but got stuck after breaching the £1M barrier. In 2015 a three-bed apartment at Elevate Property Group's Concord building, Holloway Head, sold for a reported £1.8M, only the second £1M plus sale to be agreed in the city. Last September a three-bed apartment in the Orion building was offered for sale for £2M.

Today there are four apartments on sale at prices over £1M — three of them at £1.75M including options in the Jewllery QuarterGranville Street and Caroline Street.

Since the area has claimed the prize before, maybe Holloway Head is the place to watch for a new record? Court Collaboration's £78M Axium scheme has been tipped as one to watch. Work on site is due for completion in late 2019 and asking prices start at a modest £175K.