A new office development in Aberdeen is expected to break the record for commercial rent north of the border.
Energy group Centrica is to sign a 15-year lease for the building in a deal thought to be worth about £1.8million annually.
Property developer Hazledene Group said Centrica was taking the upper three floors of the £45million, six-storey iQ property in Justice Mill Lane at more than £30 per square foot, setting what could be a new high for office rents in Scotland.
Centrica, whose businesses include Scottish Gas, plans to move all 300 onshore employees in its Aberdeen-based upstream oil and gas division into 60,000sq ft of the building.
Edinburgh-based Hazledene would not confirm any financial details of the deal but industry sources said it beat the £29 per sq ft paid by professional service firm KMPG for offices in Albyn Place, Aberdeen, and also the £30/sq ft for Microsoft’s accommodation at Waverley Gate, in Edinburgh.
Centrica is the first tenant announced for the recently completed iQ building, which includes nearly 125,000sq ft of offices and 240 underground car-parking spaces. Designed by Edinburgh-based Richard Murphy Architects and built by Miller Construction, it is part of a £75million development, which also includes the 185-bedroom Park Inn Hotel, on the former site of the Satrosphere Science Centre.
Centrica said its continued growth meant new premises were needed in Europe’s energy capital. A spokeswoman said: “We expect the move (from leased premises in Huntly Street) to take place later in the year.”
She added that the new site had enough space for a further 200 workers if needed.
Jonathan Roger, managing director of Centrica Energy Upstream, said lease negotiations were in the final stages. He added: “As we continue to grow our business, it is important that we have the right office environment to accommodate our growing team in the centre of Aberdeen.”
Hazledene chief executive Mark Shaw said competition was fierce for space in the “visually stunning, eco-friendly site” in the heart of the city, reflecting increased demand for high-quality accommodation. He added: “‘This is clearly good news for both the local economy in Aberdeen and for Scotland as a whole at a time when much of the news seems to be dominated by negative economic headlines. I am delighted that a company of the calibre of Centrica has identified iQ as place where they want to conduct business.”
First Minister Alex Salmond, who broke the first turf for the development in September 2008, said the project highlighted Scotland’s resilience in the face of difficult economic challenges, adding: “This is a tremendously exciting development for Aberdeen and for Scotland.”
A spokesman for joint letting agents Ryden and Donald Begg said: “The widespread interest in securing accommodation in iQ reflects just how the market currently places a high premium on top-of-the-range, high-quality offices and how businesses are keen to establish city-centre bases.”
Hazledene said negotiations on leasing agreements for the first three floors of the iQ building were at an advanced stage.