11 February 2020
A landmark Winchester building has been sold as an investment property in a multi-million pound deal.
Trafalgar House in the city centre has been acquired by Rushmoor Borough Council for £9.15 million, equating to a net initial yield of 4.8 per cent.
The prominent property, part of which is Grade II Listed, was sold by Gentian Development Group following a £3.3 million refurbishment to an institutional office grade standard.
Gentian director Nick Ekins said: "This is an excellent purchase for the council, Trafalgar House is fully occupied and generates a good income. We consider this substantial four-storey building will make an excellent addition to Rushmoor's commercial property portfolio. It is very much an appropriate sale for this classic building which we brought back to life after it had lain empty and unloved for eight years."
Specialist investment property and development advisers MacLaren & Partners LLP acted for Gentian while property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton advised Rushmoor.
Major construction firm Skanska UK, which holds a seven-year Hampshire County Council highways maintenance services contract, has a 20-year lease of the 15,000 sq ft office building. Gentian, which also has its own headquarters on the ground floor, pre-let the Grade A open plan office space to Skanska in 2018 at £30 per sq ft in one of the city's biggest ever office lettings. Trafalgar House, a boys' school in the early 19th century, was previously home to the county council's social services department before the authority sold it to Gentian in 2010.
The firm acquired the property for £2.4 million in 2016 and undertook the major upgrade through specialist contractor Loop Interiors. It was originally earmarked by Gentian for residential conversion to 27 flats until Skanska - known for constructing the 180-metre St Mary Axe office building (the Gherkin) in London - expressed an interest. The sympathetic refurbishment of the building, overlooking the law courts and Winchester's Great Hall, brought an estimated 150 jobs back into the city centre.
Planning permission has been granted - and preliminary work carried out - for a new upper storey, which would help ease the city's chronic office space shortage, but has not yet been actioned.