The Birmingham Assay Office has sold its landmark Newhall Street building to mixed-use developer TCN UK.
TCN UK has proposed a mixed-use scheme which, the developer says, will seek to retain the character of the Grade II listed Victorian building where possible.
Specialising in unique and innovative workspaces geared towards smaller occupiers, TCN UK was launched in the UK in 2006 and has seen success with schemes such as Piano House in Brixton and Bristol’s Temple Studios.
Mark Birks, director of selling agents GVA, said: “The sale of this building is a clear and encouraging sign of improving confidence in the regional property sector, particularly from inward investors such as TCN UK.
“Judging from its track-record of developing unique spaces that appeal to small flexible occupiers, I am sure that TCN UK will create an outstanding addition to the fabric of Birmingham’s city centre”.
Richard Pearce of TCN UK, said: “This is our first step into Birmingham’s property market and I am genuinely delighted to have secured such an incredible period building.
“This acquisition is part of our ongoing strategy to identify key regional sites that have great access to London.
“Birmingham’s rapidly maturing digital and technological sector is also a great draw for us as we have found that they are ideal occupiers for this kind of space.”
Established in 1773 by an Act of Parliament, the Assay Office Birmingham – one of only four in the country – currently employs around 120 staff who are responsible for the testing, verifying and hallmarking of several million articles of precious metal each year.
In recent years The Assay Office has diversified into other sectors and now provides independent conformance testing for jewellery and fashion accessories as well as jewellery and watch valuations and gemstone verification.
The sale of the Newhall Street building clears the way for the Assay Office to relocate to a purpose-built headquarters in the Jewellery Quarter, which will be completed and ready for occupancy in 2015.
Stella Layton, chief executive and assay master at the Birmingham Assay Office, said: “This building holds significant historical interest however these premises no longer provide the flexibility required to meet our plans for diversification and the growth in our business that we have driven in the last few years.
“With its track record of office conversions that remain sympathetic to the surroundings, we are confident that TCN UK are the right people to take this much loved landmark building and create something that will continue to see it used.
“The completion of our new building on Icknield Street will allow our business to develop and diversify our range of services further and perform more efficiently, offering a better and safer facility for our employees and our customers.
“The new building will host our heritage silver collection and library, making this valuable resource more readily accessible to the trade, the public and those who wish to use it for educational and research purposes.”