Rents, number of floors, availability and quality... the only way is up, as David Faers reports...
The old Birmingham Post & Mail tower is gone - demolished bit by bit in what seemed like a Herculean feat - and a concrete lift shaft and two cranes now tower over the rubble-strewn site beside Colmore Circus.
It's hard to believe that, in little more than 18 months, this city centre site on the edge on Birmingham's traditional business district will be transformed beyond all recognition as a shiny new office block rises up - all 300,000 sq ft of it, spread over a dozen floors.
Developers Abstract Land promises that Colmore Plaza will will set a new benchmark, with footplates of 23,000 sq ft that are ideal for call centre operations and other big-name occupiers from outside the West Midlands.
Commercial property professionals like Ross Bendall, director and head of office agency at Lambert Smith Hampton in Birmingham, believe that Colmore Plaza will be the acid test for office demand in the city.
Why? "Because it will offer the type of floorplates rarely, if ever, seen in the city and will, to a large extent, answer the call from many in the market for larger floor-plates," says Mr Bendall.
"This could, in turn, signal the arrival of a major new occupier to Birmingham - perhaps from London or the South-east."
There is, in the meantime, no shortage of demand for upmarket space from thriving professional and financial services firms, some of them struggling in older buildings that they have outgrown in every sense.
"Last year saw a continuing flight to new grade A office space which can cater for modern IT infrastructure, can accommodate
flexing working practices and efficient workspace layouts," says Mr Bendall. "Combined, these factors can have a positive impact on workplace productivity. In a tight market for recruitment, employers - particularly those in the professional sector - also realise that they have to offer a good-quality working environment in they want to attract the best people."
All of which explains why Targetfollow's revamp of Baskerville House is so timely.
This landmark building - midway between Birmingham's square mile and Brindleyplace - will bring nearly 200,000 sq ft of prime office space on to the market in July.
Quoting rents are £30 per sq ft for the two newly-created top floors and £28.50 sq ft for the ground to fourth floors.
Philippa Pickavance, head of Birmingham agency at Drivers Jones - joint agent for Baskerville House - believes that, although this scheme will ease the squeeze on upmarket office space, there is still plenty of scope for more spec-ulative development.
Thankfully, there are several building makeovers under way in the city, according to Ashley Hancox, agency head at Grenville Smith & Duncan in Birmingham.
He cites Temple Point, Temple Row, as an example. "Here we are seeing a total reinvention of the space as Frontier Estates strips the 64,000 sq ft, 12-storey property back to its frame, transforming the 1970s office block into an iconic landmark with a new style of architecture hitherto unseen in the Midlands," says Mr Hancox.