March 11 2014 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Norwich’s skyline might be on the verge of a dramatic transformation after two high-rise buildings were put on the market.
Aviva Investors said it was open to offers on a pair office blocks on St Stephen’s Street in a move that could see them turned into flats, student accommodation or event a hotel.
The EDP Top 100 firm wants to start making money from the buildings and is considering all enquiries, including proposals to buy the towers, redevelop them, or take out a long lease for commercial or residential use.
And the insurer’s property division has not ruled out using its own money to improve the eight-storey blocks – if it finds the right proposal.
The revelation comes just weeks after developers behind the Westlegate Tower – widely regarded as a Norwich eyesore – announced it had sold the last of its 19 apartments.
William Jones, head of commercial at property agents Bidwells, said the market conditions were right to try and breathe fresh life into the buildings.
“Aviva Investors own the whole of the St Stephen’s Street block from the roundabout down to Surrey Street,” he said. “All of the shops are rented out on a lease hold basis, but what Aviva Investors would like to do is to create an income stream from the towers.”
“We imagine the use to be residential, student accommodation or even a hotel,” he added. “But it all depends upon what deal is put on the table.”
The two buildings, which offer a total of 153,172 sq ft of space, were previously used by Aviva as offices, but have been left vacant for a number of years.
Each tower has its own separate entrance on the south side of the property next to the Norwich bus station, while the buildings can also be accessed from Surrey Street between the Free School and Bignold House.
A potential deal could help Norwich City Council’s efforts to revitalise St Stephen’s Street as part of a master plan to create opportunities for offices, shops and homes.
Adrian Fennell, partner responsible for retail and leisure at Norwich-based Roche chartered surveyors – operating as joint agents for the site with Bidwells – said: “It is a great opportunity and it has been vacant for a large number of years. The market has picked up and in Norwich there is some confidence again, so we are hoping we will be able to attract good interest.”
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