Liverpool Vision is expected to agree a deal today to move the new enlarged super-agency for the city into the fifth floor of Downing's The Capital.
A search by surveyor Keppie Massie shortlisted The Capital along with one other building, Bruntwood's The Plaza. The Capital will be recommended to the shadow board of the enlarged quango, which will keep the name Liverpool Vision.
The requirement is for around 12,000 sq ft of offices in the city centre, to accommodate the new agency's 70 staff and meeting rooms. Vision is understood to be paying £16.50/sq ft on a ten-year lease with no break and an initial eight months rent-free.
The fifth floor of The Capital has been refurbished and totals 30,000 sq ft out of the 100,000 sq ft Downing is bringing to market at the landmark building, known as 'the Sandcastle'. Liverpool currently trades at £22/sq ft for new space such as St Paul's Square and 20 Chapel Street.
Some agents see Vision's move to The Capital as giving a helping hand to local developer-investor Downing, which has so far failed to secure a new tenant at the prized asset acquired for £51m two years ago. Previous owner, insurer Royal & SunAlliance still occupies a large part of the building. In comparison, The Plaza has re-let quickly under Bruntwood's transformation.
The decision to take the cheaper option of secondary, refurbished space, has angered some agents and developers who fear it sends out the wrong signals to outside investors. The council, Vision and others argue that paying prime rents for Grade A new-build stock would not be an efficient use of tax-payers' money.
The super-agency will become operational in April 2008, following the merger of Liverpool Land Development Company, Liverpool Vision and Business Liverpool. Two of the three agencies are currently located in the city centre with only LLDC outside, in Mersey House, Garston to the south of the city.
Jim Gill, chief executive of the existing Liverpool Vision, will run the new agency although he has hinted that his tenure may be simply a long handover period.
Gill, 59, told Building magazine last week: "The point I've got to in my life I'm not going to be here in five years, but I'll be here for at least a year. The council may have to think about succession in 12 months."
The full board of the new agency has yet to be announced. BNFL's chief Mike Parker is the chairman designate.
Keppie Massie and GVA Grimley are Downing's lettings agents on The Capital.