Developer breathes new life into city building

THE DEVELOPER of a state-of-the-art office complex in one of Sheffield's most historic buildings hopes to kickstart a revamp of the city's commercial appeal.

Steel City House is the new name of the Grade II-listed former telephone exchange and Post Office building on West Street.

Nearly 100 years old, the regenerated building is set to open next year and will offer premier office space for around 600 people.

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Developer John Scotting, who is managing director of owners Scott’s developments, told The Yorkshire Post he hoped the scheme would set into train a revamp of the city’s office space offering, which in recent years has proved a barrier to businesses operating and expanding into the city.

He said: “Generally speaking one of the reasons big companies have historically not come to Sheffield is that the buildings haven’t been right level. There has been a bit recently with St Paul’s and the Electric Works and obviously since 2008 inward investment has slowed to a certain point. There’s been a lot of development in Sheffield that is residential and we could have gone residential with this, it would have been a safer option.

“We decided we wanted to do something that would help to make Sheffield attractive so we are hoping that a bit of inward investment might work.

“If we get someone who transfers from another office then it begins to get the whole thing moving.”

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The building itself dates back to 1927 and is reminiscent of the iconic Flat Iron building in New York. It had remained empty for a few years before Scott’s Developments acquired the site for £3.5m last year.

Its central location right outside a tram station will make it easily accessible for workers.

“I do think that this space is going to be the best office space in Sheffield. Everything that you need access to is here.

“It’s perfect, no distance at all from the Cathedral, there are restaurants everywhere.

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“Most Grade A spaces are brand new buildings, not that I have anything against new builds, but some of these buildings need new life breathing into them.”

One of the main selling points will be a newly-created sixth floor on the roof which will have glass walls affording a spectacular view across the city and beyond.

Inside, a central atrium will house a lift and new steel bridges interlinking the various floors.

The development has predictably attracted a great deal of interest from perspective tenants and developers.

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“We have got plenty of people asking questions,” Mr Scotting said.

“Big professional outfits is the target that we are looking forward. The ideal scenario from a purely value point of view would be one big blue chip tenant takes the whole lot. But if we do end up with more SMEs we can subdivide the levels in accordance with the needs of capacity.”

Renovating a nearly century old building into Grade A offices has predictably not been an easy ride for Mr Scotting but some of the features of the old building, particularly an old bank vault in the basement, have proved attractive to perspective tenants.

He said: “The whole building is a challenge in that it is not a square box, there are circular corners and triangles to deal with. The rules around fire regulations now are completely different to when this was all signed off.

“But it has been amazing to work on.”