Just days after it was put on the market Birmingham’s historic Assay Office has been snapped up by specialist developer TCN UK. Owned by Dutch parent company TCN, this is the first time its UK division has ventured into the Midland’s property market. Launched in Britain in 2006 the developer specialises in unique and innovative workspaces geared toward the smaller occupier such as the Piano House in Brixton and Bristol’s Temple Studios.
Its plans for the Grade II listed Victorian building on Birmingham’s Newhall Street are still under wraps, but TCN UK has hinted it may be transformed into a technology or software hub. “The city’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,” said spokesman Richard Pearce.
“This is our first step into Birmingham’s property market and we are genuinely delighted to have secured such an incredible period building,” he added. “This acquisition is part of our ongoing strategy to identify key regional sites that have great access to London.”
The deal, for a so far undisclosed amount, was handled by GVA. “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,” commented agency director Mark Birks.
Explaining its philosophy on its website, TCN — which also has divisions in Germany and Spain — says: “The office should reflect who you are and what you do. In an open office environment you share with other companies. A friendly environment invites people to get to know each other, share interests and do business.”
The sale of the landmark building, in the heart of Birmingham’s jewellery quarter, clears the way for the Assay Office to relocate to its new purpose-built headquarters not far away on Icknield Street and due for completion early in 2015.
Stella Layton is chief executive and assay master at the Birmingham Assay Office. “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,” she explained.
“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.”
Established under a 1773 Act of Parliament, Birmingham’s Assay Office — one of only four in the country — currently employs around 120 staff responsible for the testing, verifying and hallmarking of precious metals. The move to bigger offices will allow it to develop and diversify its range of services.
“Our new premises will also 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.” added Layton.
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