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Business & Economy

Former building society HQ set for major revamp 

The former home of Newcastle Building Society is set for a new lease of life following the announcement of plans for a multi-million-pound refurbishment programme.

Portland House, which had been the building society’s headquarters for over 25 years, will benefit from an investment that will transform the interior of the 1990s-built office. It will deliver over 60,000 sq. ft. of modern workspace across five floors in the heart of the city.

Dozens of construction jobs will be created as part of the refurbishment and once the work is complete, around 600 city centre jobs are expected to be accommodated as businesses move in.

Located on the Blue Carpet opposite the Laing Art Gallery and City Library, Portland House was acquired earlier this year in an off-market deal brokered by BNP Paribas Real Estate.

The acquisition has paved the way for the building’s transformation as part of the East Pilgrim Street development framework, a major regeneration project which will deliver more than 180,000 sq. ft. of retail, leisure and hospitality space as well as 200 hotel beds in the coming years.

The multi-million-pound refurbishment programme is to commence in October which will comprehensively remodel the building to help make way for a range of new occupiers requiring well located, modern office accommodation.

Once complete, Portland House will offer communal workspace for occupiers and visitors, shower facilities and a variety of eco-friendly measures.  The developers are installing electric charge points for vehicles and e-bikes along with a secure cycle storage and repair facility as part of their commitment to providing an environmentally friendly workspace.

Developer James Keegan said redevelopment plans reflect the current strong demand and limited supply for high-quality office space in the city. He said: “We were attracted to redeveloping Portland House because it’s in a fantastic city centre location and a key piece of the East Pilgrim Street regeneration. We have an opportunity to open an exciting new chapter for the building, transforming it into an inspiring, collaborative and sustainable place to work. In short, a workplace fit for a post-Covid 21st century.”

The first tenants, who are expected to move into the newly refurbished Portland House following completion of works in the first quarter of 2022, will also benefit from easy access to an array of local services and amenities.

Marketing of the scheme is already underway and commercial property agents Sanderson Weatherall and BNP Paribas Real Estate are reporting strong interest from potential occupiers.

Kevin McGorie, partner at Sanderson Weatherall, said: “This is a prestigious project that will see the transformation of a key city centre office. The refurbishment plans are ambitious and will usher in a new phase of growth for this part of Newcastle’s busy business district, providing the best in high-quality flexible workspace.”

Aidan Baker, senior director at BNP Paribas Real Estate, added: “We are seeing high levels of enquiries for quality office accommodation despite the pandemic, particularly for suites with versatile floor plates, first-class amenities and within easy reach of transport links. Portland House will help to meet this demand, providing excellent, readily available accommodation in a superb location.”