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Are new office projects all they're cracked up to be?
[November 08, 2007]

Are new office projects all they're cracked up to be?

(The Birmingham Post Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Property consultancy Knight Frank is carrying out a survey of Birmingham's top 250 office occupiers in one of its biggest research projects to date.

The project will consider the real response of the market to new product in the city's development pipeline.

After a long shortage of Grade A office space, Birmingham city centre's commercial property market is transforming.

More than one million sq ft of accommodation is under construction in six separate schemes, including high profile projects such as Ballymore's Snowhill and Abstract Land/Carlyle's Colmore Plaza.

The survey will be led by Catherine Penman, partner, commercial research and Mark Robinson, partner, office agency, Birmingham.

"The idea behind the survey is to canvass the opinion of key occupiers within the city primarily on the current phase of new office buildings but also the city's changing environment," Mrs Penman said.

"The property industry is very good at trying to second guess what occupiers really think of the city and this research will give the most informed view to date.

"With the pace of new development and the opportunities at stake it is crucial that we assess how new products are meeting occupiers' needs and expectations. We are calling upon businesses to respond to the survey so that we can assess what our city's upcoming developments are missing and whether the developer priorities are the same as that of the occupiers.

"For example developers are attaching increased importance on achieving a BREEAM excellent rating, sometimes incurring significant extra costs to secure it.

"They also focus on providing large open plan floor plates with floor to ceiling glazing to maximise space and create a light and airy working environment. The survey will help us to understand if occupiers are willing to pay the higher rents for these features and assess their awareness of how they can offset the higher rental cost against lower running costs through greater occupational and energy efficiency."

The questionnaire will also ask businesses why they established themselves in the city and what benefits they have subsequently gained from their choice of location.

"Insights into this topic will aid the council and local developers in their mission to court new occupiers to the city.

Mark Robinson, partner, office agency, Knight Frank added: "Cities are becoming fiercely competitive to attract inward investment; if Birmingham is to continue to grow then it is vital that its commercial property is as attractive as possible to the market - and the success for the city is success for its current businesses."

"The property industry is very good at trying to second guess what occupiers really think of the city Catherine Penman

Copyright 2007 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd , Source: The Financial Times Limited

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