Churchgate & Lee fills up for Helical

Law firm Kennedys’ leasing of 11,089 sq ft in Manchester’s Churchgate House means that, with Greater Manchester Combined Authority also under offer as a tenant, the Churchgate & Lee office complex is fully let.

Last month GMCA announced that it had chosen Churchgate House as the preferred option for its first headquarters, co-locating existing departments and creating offices for the new elected mayor in the Oxford Street block.

Manchester Growth Company, accountable to the GMCA, is already based within Churchgate House. The new GMCA letting would absorb the Growth Company’s space, plus an additional 15,000 sq ft to create a 25,000 sq ft office across the ground, first and second floors.

The latest deals take Churchgate and sister office Lee House to fully occupied, in what one agent described as “the first time in a long time”.

The Kennedys acquisition sees the firm increase the size of its Manchester office by 50% in moving from Peter Street, and follows deals for 8,000 sq ft on the first floor and an inward investment deal that saw German online retailer Escada take the 4,220 sq ft Courtyard suite.

The run of deals will be seen as vindication of its investment by owner Helical Bar, which acquired the buildings in March 2014 from Angelo Gordon and Dunedin Property, paying £34m. At that point, vacancy was 35%.

SpaceInvader was engaged to redesign the reception and lobby areas of Churchgate as Helical looked to bring the complex up to date. Digital connectivity was improved, to the extent that the building has become one of the first outside London to be accredited with “gold” status by the WiredScore rating scheme.

Blanche Longley, asset management executive at Helical, said: “We believe it’s important to make our buildings work for the people using them, providing our tenants with great communal space and amenities like an on-site café and breakout area, WiFi and making sure the building is managed well. This strategy works, as we have seen in the recent flurry of new tenants and continuing enquiries.”

Churchgate & Lee House totals 200,000 sq ft. The agents are CBRE and Edwards & Co.

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