A MULTI-MILLION pound deal to buy the Northern Rock Tower has been finalised.
Newcastle City Council has been handed the keys to the Gosforth office block for which it paid a rumoured £22m.
From now on the nine-storey tower, which has never been used, will be known as Partnership House.
From the start of next year, it will be filled with more than 1,000 staff working for the Real Partnership, a link-up between the city council and green support services firm eaga.
It is a move which council bosses say will secure around 2,000 jobs and create hundreds more, as well as bringing investment into the city.
It is six months since the city council’s decision-making executive gave the go-ahead for officers to borrow cash to buy the building at Regent Centre and rent it out to eaga.
Work is now set to start on fitting out the offices ready for staff to move in straight after the Christmas and New Year break.
Ray Ward of the city council, who is also Real Partnership chief executive, said: “We’re absolutely delighted this deal has been done and we can’t wait to get staff in there.
“This is a commercial deal, a sound investment and it works from many angles. It is about retention and creation of jobs and we hope it will stimulate the local economy, including the commercial property market, and give confidence.”
When the deal was announced in April, critics said the council should not get involved in buying property and raised fears that preventing a private investor from buying the tower could undermine buyer confidence.
But the council’s chief executive Barry Rowland said: “This will bring into use what is a first-class empty building, there’s an opportunity for eaga to grow their business here in Newcastle, which will bring significant new jobs.
“It’s something I believe local authorities should be involved in where it makes sense.
“It is important to not just sit back and wait for the upturn to come. We are using our ability to invest to secure and create jobs and stimulate growth in the wider economy and to help the city region through a very challenging time.”
Last week business secretary Lord Mandelson visited Partnership House to hear about the shared services firm set up by the city council and eaga.
The company will aim to land £45m worth of contracts to provide public sector services such as payroll, benefits, council tax payments, IT and customer service over the next two years by tapping into a market worth £7bn.
The 125,000sqft office block, completed last November at a cost of £25m, was built to house 1,500 of Northern Rock’s staff but was never used as the bank was nationalised and cut its workforce.