Dublin-based Green Property has started work on a £1.5m refurbishment of 35,000 sq ft at its trophy office in Liverpool city centre, describing it as the "first salvo" in the turnaround of the largely vacant building's fortunes.
Green bought the grade 2-listed building in Water Street from Achilleas Kallakis' Atlas Group in 2008 with funding from Allied Irish Bank. Kallakis is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for his part in a £740m fraud.
Mike Tapp, UK director of Green Property, said: "It's a stunning building in possibly the best location in Liverpool's business district, but it needs bringing bang up to date.
"Our investment will catapult it to grade A standard which, when you match that with the stunning architecture, will offer an unbeatable combination."
The building is currently 70% vacant having lost a number of occupiers to more modern buildings during the buyer's market of the past five years, including law firm Weightmans to Bruntwood's The Plaza.
Green appointed Warrington-based interior design and fit-out business Claremont Group Interiors to bring the fifth floor of India Buildings up to modern standards and other floors are expected to follow in an ongoing refurbishment programme.
Tapp added: "The market is there for space of this quality, and the flexibility that we can offer in terms of configuration and fit-out standards makes India Buildings a compelling offer. We're expecting to make good progress in lettings as people see for themselves just what we can provide."
Work on site is expected to be completed in September with occupiers being offered the potential of dividing the floor in quarters upwards.
Mark Worthington, director of CBRE, joint letting agent with Jones Lang LaSalle, said: "There is no other floor plate of 35,000 sq ft in the city and the occupational and cost-efficiencies of this, as opposed to splitting a team over two or three floors, are significant – probably around 15% of the total occupier costs. We think those figures will chime with finance directors in this market."
India Buildings was built between 1924 and 1932 as the headquarters for Alfred Holt's Blue Funnel Line and was designed by art deco pioneer Herbert Rowse. It is particularly noted for its elegant central arcade. The building took a direct hit during Liverpool's lengthy wartime blitz and was restored and reopened in 1952.
Quoting rents are £16/sq ft.