Vision that drove transformation of workaday site into sleek new office
21st April 2016
Hundreds who passed it every day on their way to Sheffield's Law Courts and Riverside quarter barely gave it a second glance.
.. The former printing works on New Street, a narrow cobbled street close to the professional quarter, had stood empty for years and had little character. The workaday 1,200 square foot property was owned by Brownill Vickers, one of the city's oldest independent firm of chartered surveyors and property agents. It wasn't for sale; the company used it for file storage and the car park at the rear was handy for staff. Remaining spaces were leased to local business people. But now the workaday building has a new life - as a stunning contemporary workplace. A city businessman, who only discovered the building because he went to view parking spaces, spotted its potential, persuaded Brownill Vickers to sell and then spent £75,000 on transforming it. James Biggin, MD of branded merchandise specialists Steel City, decided it was time to buy a property when the rental lease on his Shalesmoor offices came up for renewal. Brownill Vickers found a site for him to view but as it lacked parking, it showed James its New Street car park. -When we got there I was transfixed by the old, unloved building at its entrance, commented James. -It was bare, had only electricity and needed a lot of work, but I could see its potential. Having vision and exploring ideas is what my business is all about. RBS, whom Steel City had banked with since the company was founded by James's father and a business partner in 1980, were -encouraging and supportive from Day One and provided a 70 per cent mortgage. Said James: -The finances added up; I had built a solid position from which to make a decision and could cover the deposit and a percentage of the £75,000 refurbishment. A small second mortgage covered the rest and we are still only paying what we previously spent on rent, whilst gaining an asset for the future. -If you have a secure enough business, owning the property you trade from makes sound financial sense As the property's value increases, it gives the business added security. Almost a year on from discovering the building, Steel City's team of nine moved in this month. Sheffield fit-out specialists UK Workspace have created a stylish urban space with an industrial vibe. It features exposed brick walls, a glass meeting room, a Pantone colour staircase, shot-blasted steel beams and faux parquet flooring. Fake grass meanders the length of the office and clients ranging from professional services firms and manufacturers to well-known local brands will be meeting around a boardroom table created from scaffold planks and rusted RSJs by city-based reclaimed furniture-makers Metal & Dust. -The building still looks very plain outside, which we like because people's eyes light up when they walk inside, said James. -We find our new home an inspirational place to work, we're in the heart of the city - and the added bonus is that car park. Robin Curtis, a director at Brownill Vickers, confirmed: -We had owned this property for a number of years and it wasn't formally for sale. However, when James saw the building he had a vision. He has transformed it into a stunning open-plan office with a New York loft feel. -The property should prove an excellent investment for Steel City. It is located in a part of the city centre which is set to be transformed. There are a number of developments in the pipeline and the Council's Grey to Green project has now been completed on West Bar.