£4m deal will give offices a green makeover

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A PROMINENT retail and office scheme in the centre of Leeds is getting a green makeover after it was acquired by a property fund manager in a deal worth over £4m.

Bridges Sustainable Property Fund plans to refurbish Airedale House on Albion Street with a number of environmentally-friendly features, including solar panels on the roof to generate its own electricity in the communal areas.

The building is home to a number of businesses including Slater Menswear and Co-op Travel.

Guy Bowden, acquisitions director at Bridges Ventures, said: “This opportunity gave us an example where we could add value over the short-to-medium term and it fits in with our sustainable criteria.”

Airedale House, which is close to the new Trinity shopping centre, comprises 26,337 sq ft of retail space and 15,056 sq ft of office accommodation.

There are currently two floors (7,000 sq ft) of vacant office space as well as a vacant retail unit on the ground floor, previously occupied by Barclays.

The refurbishment plans for Airedale House will see the offices upgraded with close attention paid to the sustainability of the building, including intelligent lighting, a more efficient air conditioning system and more efficient heating.

The first phase of refurbishment will cost around £400,000. After that, there will be a rolling programme of refurbishment.

Mr Bowden said the changes would “substantially” reduce operational costs for tenants.

“That’s important for prospective tenants,” he said. “People are looking at service charges as well as rent. We want to give the building a greater presence on the street, maybe with some clever lighting and giving the entrance a new identity. We haven’t quite decided yet but we have a few options.”

CBRE’s Leeds Capital Markets team acted for Bridges to acquire the property from Jones Lang LaSalle’s client, Helix Property Advisors who were advising Shay Property Investments.

Alex Whiting, senior director of capital markets at CBRE, said; “Airedale House represented an ideal acquisition for Bridges Ventures with good rental returns and additional asset management opportunities.

“The office accommodation will launch at a welcome time in Leeds where supply of quality space is extremely limited and the proposed sustainable works will undoubtedly be of interest to potential new tenants.”

Mathew Atkinson, director of capital markets at Jones Lang LaSalle, said “The strong fundamentals and potential of the building attracted very good levels of interest from both local and national investors.”

CBRE’s building consultancy division has been appointed to manage the sustainable refurbishment works and its property management team has also been instructed as managing agent.

Bridges Sustainable Property Fund, which is managed by fund manager Bridges Ventures, was launched in 2009.

Airedale House is the company’s second acquisition in Yorkshire. It also owns a distribution unit in Denaby Main, Doncas- ter.

Mr Bowden said: “We have been looking in Yorkshire for a while. Hopefully, this is the first of many acquisitions here.”

lizzie.murphy@ypn.co.uk