2 October 2020
Union Investment acquires Grade A office building in prime Birmingham location
Union Investment has acquired an architectural gem in the heart of Birmingham. The office building dates from 1875 and has a listed Victorian façade. Located at 55 Colmore Row, it enjoys one of the best business addresses in Birmingham. The acquisition is being made on behalf of open-ended real estate fund UniInstitutional European Real Estate, which is targeted at institutional investors. The vendor is Nuveen Real Estate, one of the largest investment managers globally. The purchase price was not disclosed. Union Investment was advised by CMS and CBRE on the acquisition, while Nuveen was advised by A&O and Acre.
Wolfgang Kessler, member of the management board at Union Investment Institutional Property GmbH
Its prominent corner position gives the building very high visibility, with St. Philip’s Cathedral lying directly opposite. The property also benefits from excellent transport links, being situated between Birmingham’s two main railway stations, New Street and Snow Hill, which are both just a five-minute walk away. London can be reached in around 90 minutes by rail. When construction of the initial phase of the High Speed 2 rail link is completed in 2030, the journey time to the UK capital will be reduced to just under 50 minutes. Birmingham Airport is around 20 minutes away by train.
BCO Award for top quality design and functionality
The six-storey building has been extensively refurbished twice since it was first built. The most recent refurbishment, in 2017/2018, included the listed eight-metre-high entrance hall, an architectural feature that lends a distinctive character to the already prestigious building. The property has a BREEAM Excellent rating and also received a BCO Award from the British Council for Offices (BCO) in 2018. This awards programme provides public recognition for top quality design and functionality in office spaces.
The property has a total area of around 14,600 sqm and is currently fully let. The basement provides 59 car parking spaces and 242 bicycle spaces accessed via the entrance to the underground car park. There are also changing rooms and showers.
The main tenant in the building is the co-working space provider WeWork, which occupies around 5,100 sqm. Further space has been let to the international law firm Pinsent Masons LLP (approx. 3,700 sqm) and the RICS professional association (approx. 2,800 sqm). The sixth floor is let to estate agents Savills and includes a spacious terrace with a unique view of St. Philip’s Place. On the ground floor and basement, long-term leases have been signed with two restaurants (Gaucho and Fazenda), both of which have now reopened after closing during lockdown.