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How To Tell If The Midlands Office Market Is Booming: Go To Wolverhampton

The 50K SF i9 speculative office development planned for Wolverhampton Feb 2018
The 50K SF i9 speculative office development planned for Wolverhampton

When the tide is high, all boats float, so the saying goes.

Now there is evidence that the Midlands office market tide is as high as it has been for decades, with the announcement that Wolverhampton City Council is to borrow £13M to forward-purchase a 47K SF speculative office development on a former car park at Railway Street.

According to new data from Knight Frank, the Midlands office market has attracted a surge of capital. Total investment in buying or funding office development in Birmingham in 2017 was £599M, up 52% compared to the previous year.

Wolverhampton has traditionally been one of the last parts of the West Midlands to see an office market uplift. An analysis by Bruton Knowles 2014 claimed the "last significant development" was the early 1990s construction of St David's Court and that there was "no occupied Grade A floorspace in the city centre."

The latest development, to be carried out by Liverpool-based ION Developments, is part of the £132M Wolverhampton Interchange scheme, a flagship for West Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street's plan to use infrastructure investment to stimulate commercial development.

ION has given the council a three-year rental guarantee, and development will involve gap funding from the Black Country local enterprise partnership.

The £79M office scheme is expected to be completed by 2020 and is being slated by the council as a potential location for government agencies.

It follows the completion of the 36K SF i10 office block in 2015, now let to occupiers including Tarmac and Countryside Properties.