Interest is mounting in a former jam jar factory which is being converted into a new office hub for 45 businesses.
A fresh wave of ambitious firms across a range of sectors are keen to take up space in Maling Exchange, a £3m redevelopment of the space that once housed the famous Maling pottery building in the Ouseburn valley in Newcastle.
Hoults Yard has been awarded more than £1.5m from the European Regional Development Fund Competitiveness Programme, managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, to part finance the project – a grant the company has match-funded.
Hoults Yard managing director Charlie Hoult said rate cards are already garnering lots of interest, while some potential tenants have already been given a sneak peek inside the rapidly-progressing project.
A team of around 200 construction workers and engineers are due to finish the conversion programme by May, making sure it is open for business in June, when all new arrivals will have access to superfast broadband and connectivity.
A raft of partners have been working on the Maling Exchange project, including Xsite Architecture, which devised the scheme, and Brims Construction, the main contractor providing building services.
Mr Hoult said: “It’s going brilliant and really moving on apace – we’re definitely on the downhill slope. We have started showing to people and there are lots of interested parties.
“In the rest of the yard we are beginning to run out space and some of our customers are growing – things are steady in the economy so they are doing well, so they want to expand into bigger offices.”
Upon completion the development will provide over 45,000sqft of office accommodation ranging from small units for businesses of one to three people up to larger offices of more than 1,000sqft. There is also a separate unit, The Stables, which will comprise 10,500sqft of warehouse/industrial space with 3,500sqft of offices.
Mr Hoult’s grandfather Frederick Hoult brought Maling pottery production to the Hoults Yard site in 1948 and the factory supplied pottery to Crosse & Blackwell, Sainsbury and Frank Cooper Marmalade amongst a host of other kitchen and decorative ware.
Eventually competition from more modern and streamlined potteries caused Maling to close in 1963, but work has been carried out in the current development to maintain something of the site’s history.
Mr Hoult added: “The really interesting thing is the mix of heritage and how we have invested to retain those heritage features, but by working with Go Digital as soon as customers move in, they’ll have access to uncontended broadband.”
Naylors’ office agency team has been appointed as sole letting agent on the development.
Simon Taylor, head of office agency at Naylors said: “Maling Exchange will become Newcastle’s most tech-enabled service centre and we are pleased to be marketing such a unique development.
“The development will address a shortage of innovative work space for new and expanding firms within the rapidly growing creative and tech sectors in the North East. There is very little commercial space like this on offer and it is already proving popular with a high level of inquiries coming in.”
Mr Hoult added: “Our key investment is in technology. Maling Exchange will be the most high tech space for our clients to grow: Superfast broadband, VOIP phones, integral access and security. We are also creating a meeting room and events facility that will allow small firms to play big with customers and prospects.”