Work on the largest Birmingham city centre residential scheme since The Cube is a matter of weeks away after a takeover deal.
The landmark Number One Hagley Road already has planning permission for 271 homes after Seven Capital bought it from Patron Capital & Mountgrange last week.
The site has been an office building since it was built in the 1970s and its current tenants include transport company National Express.
However, it is set to play a part in a renaissance of Five Ways, centred around leisure and city living, with Calthorpe Estates’ proposed Edgbaston Village a matter of minutes away.
Seven managing director Phil Carlin said initial work is already beginning, and he expected to have a contractor in place within a month.
“The shell of the building will remain, but that is it,” he said. “People are buying 110-year leases and what they will be buying is a brand new building. It is a full-scale redevelopment and one of the largest ongoing projects in the city centre.”
He added: “Along with our redevelopment of Five Ways Shopping Centre opposite, this will certainly add to the vitality of the area.
“There is no point having lots of nice shops if there is nobody coming in and out of them.
“And most of the most successful city centre locations are just on the edge of the action. For some people living in the Rotunda it is great, but most people don’t want to step straight into the crowds. Number One Hagley Road offers the best of both worlds.”
Mr Carlin said the sales thus far are about 75 per cent investors – many from Asia and the Middle East – and 25 per cent owner-occupiers.
Homes will cost between £130,000 and £250,000, with a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom properties.
The larger penthouse apartments were all sold within hours, Mr Carlin revealed.
The work to create 252,506 sq ft of residential space is expected to be completed by September 2015.
Mr Carlin said of the 200 already pre-sold, three-quarters are from investors, with interest from across Asia and the Middle East in particular.
Colliers International and Centrick Property are now marketing the rest of the units and Mr Carlin said negotiations with suitable contractors are “at an advanced stage”.
Susannah Smith, associate director in the residential team at Colliers International, said she was confident there would be strong demand for the homes.
The company is holding a launch event at the block on April 15.
She said: “I think there is strong demand in the city because there hasn’t been anything new since the recession, so it is a fantastic chance to actually buy something new.
“I think this is a sign of things to come. There is a lot of positivity in the market.”
Meanwhile, Mr Carlin said Birmingham City Council had played a major part in the deal going through by adopting new permitted development rights.
The change, brought into force by the Government in May, means that if a the local planning authority does not refuse or grant the application for prior approval within 56 days of the making of the application, it is automatically deemed to have been given.
“If you wanted to build a brand new 20-storey building it would be a long time in planning, but being able to achieve the same result in 56 days in this case is a major enabling factor,” Mr Carlin said.
Birmingham Office Market Forum chairman John Griffiths added: “The Government brought in this planning change to enable more rapid work on residential, and Birmingham has actively embraced this as a policy.
“It is a seismic shift. This change of policy is having major impact. There has been a lot of talk about it, but now this shows it is happening.”
Mr Griffiths, of GBR Phoenix Beard, who represented the vendors in the deal, said he expected a lot more activity around Five Ways in the months and years to come.
He added: “It is a fantastic location for the prices, and you can already see from the interest it is going to work really well.
“It is a strong address and it all points to good value in terms of things going forward in the city centre.
“It augurs well for Birmingham as a location that investors and businesses want to come here because of the quality of life and affordability.”