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PS2.8m city acre is just right for family-run Rightacres; OFFICES OR A HOTEL MAY BE PLACED NEAR TRAIN STATION.

Byline: SION BARRY sion.barry@walesonline.co.uk

A PRIME one acre site in the centre of Cardiff has been acquired by Rightacres Property. The site, close to Cardiff train and bus stations - and which once housed the planning offices of Cardiff Council - was bought after a competitive bid process overseen by LPA receivers Allsops.

The value of the acquisition is not being disclosed, but is understood to be PS2.8m.

The prized site also received competing bids from Cardiff council and the Welsh Government, the latter which recently acquired four acres of yet to be developed land at the Callaghan Square office scheme from MEPC for PS7.2m.

The Welsh Government is looking to develop 100,000 sq ft of grade-A office space at-Callaghan Square itself - which could potentially be boosted by an additional 300,000 sq ft.

While there is renewed focus on attracting inward investment to Cardiff's enterprise zone for financial and professional services, another key target for any new office stock will be businesses in outlying areas of the city in accommodation no longer fit for purpose - of which there is an estimated one million sq ft. By being relocated into the enterprise zone the vacated buildings could potentially be redeveloped for residential.

The Wood Street site already has planning consent for two hotels.

Chief executive of property developers Rightacres Paul Mc-Carthy said the site could support up to 250,000 sq ft of mixed-used development, including potentially 100,000 sq ft of offices.

Mr McCarthy said the firm would first consider the scale of Welsh Government plans before deciding on the office scheme element of any developments on its acquired site, which would need planning consent.

Prior to the Wood Street site being put in the hands of receivers it was owned by Urban Solutions. It acquired the site from the council in 2003 for PS2.5m, after the original office buildings were demolished.

It subsequently received planning consent for a PS50m residential scheme for nearly 250 apartments to include a 32-storey glass "needle", known as the Seren, in 2005.

Last week it was confirmed that Rightacres has been appointed developer for a new PS45m campus for Cardiff & Vale College on land it owns off Dumballs Road in Cardiff.

The family-run firm has a strong track record in the development of offices and hotels including Callaghan Square where it has developed buildings for clients that include British Gas, Lloyds TSB, The AA and Arriva Trains.

Rightacres' chairman, Michael McCarthy said "We are extremely proud to have been involved in the regeneration of Cardiff through the delivery of key strategic sites such as Callaghan Square and hope to continue to play a key role in the future development of the city at Central Square.

"We will be working closely with Cardiff County Council to maximise their investment and ideas for new transport links, digital connections and infrastructure to help Cardiff become a leading international destination for new visitors and businesses."

There are a number of office requirements in the marketplace, including 50,000 sq ft from Legal & General and those of professional advisory firms Geldards and Morgan Cole.

Although it recently announced new leases and additional space at Hodge House and Fusion Point, law firm Hugh James could potentially move to new offices in the zone with break clauses in 2018. It currently occupies just under 100,000 sq ft in Cardiff.

Another firm which could be significantly expanding its presence in Cardiff is professional advisory firm Deloitte. Its UK risk management operation based in Fusion Point is seeking to service offices in America.

It is understood that Rightacres has a number of interested office occupiers showing a strong interest in the site as well as a hotel operator. The company has close ties to the Macdonald hotel chain and has developed hotels for Whitbread's Premier Inn brand. Paul McCarthy said: "It's the market that decides which location best suits the needs of the capital's largest employers. We understand exactly what businesses in growth industries want from their real estate and have the team, track record and flexibility to deliver."

The chief executive said he has confidence in Cardiff council in terms of its vision for development of the city.

He said: "I think that Russell Goodway has got a clear vision where he wants to take the city, but it needs support of the Welsh Government to help them to get it where it wants it to be. It needs a body steering the ship and not two. The local council has the knowledge and skills to take the city in the right direction, but it just needs the support of the Welsh Government."

PS2.8m acquisition of Wood St site 250,000 sq ft mixed development scheme could be built

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The site near Cardiff's bus and train stations

PICTURE: Matthew Horwood / Media Wales
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 20, 2013
Words:811
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