A former call centre which employed 750 staff is to be turned into an apartment complex following a £10m investment.
Work has started to transform two office buildings at Dawsons Corner in Pudsey, Leeds, into 140 apartments totalling 96,434 sq ft.
They were last used as a call centre by breakdown specialist Green Flag before owner Direct Line decided to relocate staff to its premises in Leeds city centre last year.
Leeds-based Headoffice3, which is in charge of the project, bought the site on behalf of Marco Island Developments for £3.5m a few weeks ago and will spend £6.5m on the conversion.
Green Flag House, which is three storeys high, rising to four storeys in the northern wing, will contain 110 apartments - a mix of studio and one and two bed. Park House, which is set over three floors, will house 30 apartments.
Green Flag House is to be renamed Greenleigh Court and Park House will retain its name.
They are expected to be ready by the end of 2017.
Headoffice 3 is also looking to develop part of the huge car park into a community building or more housing. “The car park is ripe for development. There are 329 spaces and we don’t need all of those,” said chief executive Glen Harding.
In addition, the firm is also considering installing ground source heat pumps, which would add about £1m to the cost.
The scheme, which is on Bradford Road halfway between Leeds and Bradford, is one of the biggest private rented sector schemes currently on site in the city.
Investors are keen to put their money into the private rented sector as the demand for new housing continues. Many are looking for large office blocks that can house 100-plus apartments.
This appetite has led to rapid growth for Headoffice3.
It has appointed 30 new staff this year, taking its headcount up to 55, and expects to double its turnover to £40m by the end of 2017.
It has already signed £30m worth of contracts for next year.
Chief executive Glen Harding said: “We are seeing strong demand at the moment. The housing market in general is in so much demand it is outstripping supply and you could practically sell anything.”
Headoffice3, which began life as a school furniture and fit-out business, is now an office-to-residential conversion specialist working with high net worth individuals and pension funds.
It has its own planners, architects, structural engineers, construction team and interior designers.
The company made the change in 2013 after the government introduced permitted development rights for office-to-residential conversions to ease the glut of empty and under-used commercial buildings.
“We are different to the traditional development mode because we do everything,” said Mr Harding. “We find the buildings, look at their viability, find investors, design, build and help with the sales.”