UK Land makes city debut on King Street

UK Land & Property has bought 76-80 King Street, its first acquisition in Manchester's prime office core, for more than £15m from Scottish Widows as the life insurer looks to recoup cash in the struggling market.

Earlier this week Scottish Widows became the latest property fund manager to close its doors to private investors wishing to withdraw cash. The 180 day delay imposed on investors allowed Scottish Widows to raise sufficient funds through sales of assets to pass on to customers.

UK Land, based in Liverpool but with a recently opened Manchester office, financed the deal with Bank of Scotland Corporate's real estate team.

The 41,355 sq ft, Grade II-listed building was designed by the same architect as Manchester Town Hall, Alfred Waterhouse, and dates from between 1888 and 1896. The building operates retail on the ground and basement levels, with office accommodation on the upper four floors, which are occupied by solicitor, Halliwells LLP.

Agents expect Halliwells to surrender its lease as it consolidates into its new office in Spinningfields. High-end fashion retailer Belstaff occupies the retail unit fronting King Street and Essex Street with DKNY occupying the adjoining unit.

Ian Sherry, development director of UK Land & Property, said: "76-80 King Street marks our first significant office acquisition in Manchester city centre and, since the recent opening of our Manchester office, is a further demonstration of our confidence in the North West's commercial property sector. The building's prime location coupled with the potential for future added value made the acquisition attractive despite the difficult market conditions."

Paul Devenport, director for Bank of Scotland Corporate Real Estate, added: "Our involvement in the project offers us an excellent opportunity to build on the existing relationship with UK Land & Property and raise our profile as a key funder of significant real estate projects in Manchester and the North West."

Jones Lang LaSalle acted on behalf of UK Land & Property and Savills acted on behalf of Scottish Widows. Property law firm, Goodman Harvey advised UK Land & Property.

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