Construction has begun at the site of the largest development of its kind in Hull for more than half a century - marking another milestone in the transformation of the city’s Fruit Market.
A former car park, off Humber Street and Blackfriargate, in Hull, is being turned into a 55,000 sq ft new headquarters for safety equipment supplier Arco.
The £16 million development, which is the largest new-build office development for a dedicated user in the Hull area since the late 1960s, also includes a 350 space multi-storey car park.
More than 30 homes and more retail and leisure space will be built in later phases.
The move will bring 550 Arco staff from their current headquarters on Waverley Street and two other offices into the regenerated Fruit Market, a new “urban village” which hosts a vibrant mix of independent businesses and recently-built homes.
The managing director of the fourth generation family-run firm David Evison said a major driver for the project was to help Hull Council by freeing up space on Waverley Street for a site compound for the long-awaited £392.5 million A63/Castle Street upgrade, due to start next Spring.
He said: “A head office for any company is not an investment you get immediate returns on.
“It will allow us to make a statement and attract talent.
“And it gives us a space that people will want to come and work in because it is a nice, vibrant area.”
The company is returning to its roots - having opened its original shop in Queen Street just yards away in 1891..
The scheme is led by Wykeland Beal, a joint venture between developers Wykeland Group and Beal Homes, as part of the Fruit Market LLP with Hull Council.
Hull Council is making a £3.2 million loan to the LLP towards the car park, while the Arco building is supported with a grant of £1 million through the Local Enterprise Partnership.
The council will get interest from the loan, as well as a 100 per cent return on business rates as the area is one of the city’s Economic Development Zones.
Money from the rates from the Fruit Market can be spent on the council’s core services.
Councillor Daren Hale, the council’s deputy leader, said the relocation was a major part of their long-term vision for the city centre, and it would be a “significan’t boost” to the area.
He said: “There used to be just 200 (council taxpayers) in the city centre and now it’s 2,100 and growing - another 1,800 paying council tax that weren’t two years ago.”
The five-storey building, which will have a glass-fronted atrium, will be designed to blend in with neighbouring buildings including the @TheDock tech campus and its centrepiece, the Centre for Digital Innovation.
Concerns were raised after the tree belt around the car park, which was valued by local residents, was chopped down ahead of the start of work.
Mr Evison said: “We’re working with the council to create some greenspace within Hull, which is a significant investment.”
However it will not be in the Fruit Market area, but “nearer Hessle”.