£70m deal on prime Bristol office scheme two years ahead of opening shows strength of market

June 26, 2020

Cubex, the Bristol-based property developer behind the Finzels Reach regeneration, has completed one of the city’s largest investment deals with Tesco Pension Investment paying nearly £70m to forward fund its Grade A Halo office building.

Construction of the cutting-edge 116,000 sq ft scheme, pictured, on the site of the former Avon Fire and Rescue HQ, is now underway and expected to complete in 2022. 

International law firm Osborne Clarke will relocate its Bristol office to Halo, occupying nearly two thirds of it over five floors, including a private roof terrace. The three remaining floors, totalling around 42,000 sq ft, are now being marketed.

Cubex said the deal on the showpiece building – which includes a rooftop drone landing pad – with its initial funding partner Fiera Real Estate reflected its position in a strong market.

Director Peter Walford said: “This is a very significant office investment deal for Bristol, particularly in the current economic climate, and reflects not only the quality of the building we are developing but the strength of interest from the property sector in the city.

“This is the fifth Grade A office building that we’ve developed in this area of Bristol and with each, we aim to raise the bar in terms of both design and innovation, an approach which has been rewarded by the quality of the tenants and investors we have been able to attract.” 

Halo is set to be one of the greenest office buildings in the UK, with Cubex targeting an ‘outstanding’ accreditation under the BREEAM scheme to meet the toughest new sustainability assessment criteria.

Cubex said the building will be ‘future focused’ with leading edge digital connectivity and is also being designed to prioritise the wellbeing of the 1,000 staff working – it hopes it will be one of the first buildings in the UK to achieve WELL Building certification.

Key features influencing this will be outdoor space on the rooftop, a bike park and glazed façade to maximise views and daylight.

Other design features include a unique corkscrew-like staircase rising up through a glass atrium, pictured, with highly efficient LED lighting, roof-top mounted photovoltaic panels.

Cubex, which focuses on creating sustainable workplaces and low carbon communities, has appointed Willmott Dixon as main contractor for Halo.

Willmott Dixon previously completed Cubex’s 95,000 sq ft Aurora office building on the opposite side of Counterslip and the 200-home Hawkins & George residential scheme at Finzels Reach.

Bristol property agents hailed the Halo investment deal illustrated the strength of the city centre office market. 

Martin Booth, pictured, a partner in the Bristol office of Knight Frank, said: “Despite the challenging market conditions and economic uncertainty, there is still pent-up demand for high-quality future-focused office space in Bristol.

“Even with working practices changing as a result of Covid-19 and predictions of staff spending less time in the office, employers will still need space where they can bring people together to work collaboratively and meet clients.

“Cubex is the only developer in Bristol to be delivering a building of this calibre into the market in early 2022 and we expect strong interest in the remaining three floors at Halo.”

Global property firm Avison Young’s recent ‘Big Nine’ report, which analyses the market in the UK’s largest provincial cities, said Bristol’s office market was well-placed to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic after enjoying the strongest quarterly take-up figures for 10 years.

Take-up between January and the end of March – at 219,420 sq ft – was 52% above the quarterly average while Osborne Clarke’s pre-let at Halo was one of the UK’s largest deals.

Bristol developer Cubex bought the former Avon Fire and Rescue site in 2018 on behalf of Fiera Real Estate Opportunity Fund IV (UK), a programmatic joint venture by Fiera Real Estate that is exclusive to clients of CBRE Global Investment Partners (CBRE GIP).

CBRE represented Cubex & Fiera in the new forward funding deal on Halo, with Savills acting on behalf of Tesco.

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