KPMG deal edges closer

The prelet deal between KPMG and Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund / Argent to kick-start One St Peter's Square was due to be signed before Easter but is still going through due diligence.

The update on negotiations over the most hotly tipped office deal in Manchester city centre, which would trigger construction of GMPVF and Argent's 273,000 sq ft block on the site of Elisabeth House, is revealed in the minutes of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund Property Working Group quarterly meeting held on 15 April, published last week.

Damian Masters, development director at GVA, advisor to GMPVF, presented to the property committee and said: "With regard to One St Peters Square, Manchester, the negotiations and discussions regarding the potential prelet of part of the new building were ongoing. Following a presentation to the interested firm's Manchester directors, a final decision on their preferred location was due to be made prior to Easter."

Masters said after the meeting that the accountancy and financial advisory firm were still going through the paperwork to do all their own checks and balances before signing. KPMG is understood to be looking for 70,000 sq ft. The other frontrunner competing with GMPVF / Argent is Allied London for a prelet self-contained building in Spinningfields.

Masters' report continued to touch on other development sites owned by GMPVF in Stalybridge, Liverpool, Warrington and Wigan.

He said: "At Stalybridge West, Tameside, a change of personnel within the development team at the major food retailer [Tesco] had unfortunately delayed negotiations. Meetings with the company's new development director had confirmed that whilst there was still a strong desire to relocate to a larger store within the town, they were having to review and reappraise the commercial viability of this."

Tesco is understood to be considering extending its current 60,000 sq ft or relocating to GMPVF's site half a mile away to build an 80,000 sq ft store.

The report goes on to state that "negotiations were underway with a motor dealership" for a showroom on the smaller of two sites in Martland Park, Wigan.

In Liverpool, GVA believes there is capacity for a 70,000 sq ft office building on a site acquired from Urban Splash in Old Haymarket. Architects at Austin-Smith:Lord are drawing up plans for the building, which would probably require a prelet to begin on site. A planning application for could be submitted later this year or early next, Masters said.

The report went on: "At Calver Park, Warrington, a building design team had been assembled in order to produce a revised design and layout for this industrial development site which would in turn inform a revised planning application for development.

"Marketing had recently formally commenced of the hotel opportunity at the former Royal Mail Sorting Office/Surface Car Parking Site, Stockport. With regard to the surface car parking site which the Fund acquired as part of the transaction, a letting has been agreed to a third party who were operating the car park and paying rent to the Fund.

"Standing investments were then detailed relating to Globe Park, Moss Bridge Road, in Rochdale, Milk Street in Hyde, and Unity House, Westwood Park in Wigan.

"Potential opportunities were also discussed within the Greater Manchester area and the North West generally. Particular reference was made to a redevelopment opportunity in Manchester, where, unfortunately, the Fund were not successful in acquiring. GVA continued to monitor the situation, as it was believed that future opportunities may present themselves."

The next GMPF property working group meeting will be held in July.

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