Ex-fashion chain boss backing city’s £50m office plan

Wealthy Asian businessman Gurnaik Chima has emerged as a major backer of the £50m project to create an iconic office development in Leeds.

He is one of the main investors alongside entrepreneur Steve Parkin in Roydhouse Properties Central Square, which is buying the site in Wellington Street.

As revealed in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post, the company plans to build a near 200,000 sq ft office development to tap into growing demand for top quality office space in the city.

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The forthcoming sale of the former Lumiere site represents a major turning point for the city’s commercial property market.

The area has been a prominent eyesore since the collapse of developer Kevin Linfoot’s property empire in 2009.

Mr Linfoot hoped to build Europe’s largest residential syscrapers but developers said the credit crunch rendered the scheme “commercial suicide”.

Mr Parkin is now in talks with a number of potential tenants about taking space in the Central Square development.

PwC, Sky and law firms Squire Sanders and Addleshaw Goddard are among those with requirements for new space, say property professionals.

Mr Chima is one of the founders of retail chain Bonmarché. Mr Parkin’s company Clipper Logistics has had a long-term association with the Yorkshire business.

In a statement yesterday, Richard Thornton, from sole selling agent Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “Rarely does a prime site like this present itself to the market and we received a high level of interest during the sales process.”

Mark Barnes, asset manager to Roydhouse Properties Central Square Ltd, added: “Our acquisition means that the Central Square development, the final remaining part of undeveloped land in this area, can now move forward with confidence. This is nearly 1.5 acres within the core of Leeds city centre.

“It provides us the opportunity to start our new venture with an iconic building on a great site in Leeds.”

The site has planning consent for a 195,000 sq ft mixed-used scheme across two buildings.

From humble beginnings as market traders, Mr Chima and his brother Gurchait went on to found the Bonmarche fashion chain in Huddersfield in 1982.

The Peacock Group bought the company in 2002 for just over £51m.