Fenn Wright complete work on multi-million-pound regeneration of Eagle House, Chelmsford
Fenn Wright are a multi-discipline firm, offering a broad range of professional and agency services throughout Essex and Suffolk. Since 2012, Fenn Wright have been involved in the acquisition and subsequent re-development of Eagle House, formerly Aquila House, a prominent building in Chelmsford city centre.
In November 2012, Roger Hayward MRICS introduced and acted on behalf of Chelmsford City Council in acquiring Aquila House for circa £3,000,000, providing a 9% net initial yield. At the time, the building was subject to an FRI lease to accountants Bird Luckin (now Rickard Luckin), expiring in 2021 at £295,000 per annum. The lease had some unusual features, but the price reflected the specification of the building. There was a rent review due in 2016, but we were unable to justify an increase.
This was the first major city centre freehold office investment acquired by the City Council. Fenn Wright have gone on to acquire another town centre investment and two more out of town office investments for the same client. Rickard Luckin opted to vacate the building in December 2020 when their lease ended, Nigel Berry MRICS, Head of Building Consultancy, was appointed to inspect the property and advise on the lease end dilapidations. A schedule of dilapidations was prepared and issued to the tenant, where following negotiations with the tenant’s surveyor, a financial settlement was agreed in November 2021. This sum contributed towards the cost of the repairs and refurbishment of the property.
In early 2022, Donald Barber MRICS was appointed Project Manager by Chelmsford City Council to specify and oversee the refurbishment of the building upon it becoming vacant. In consultation with agency colleagues and the client, it was agreed that the market provided greater opportunities as a multi-let office. Acting as the designer and project manager, Donald produced a scheme for 16 individual office suites, a reception area and communal toilets and showers to each floor.
Each suite has a Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery system, full air conditioning and high-speed fibre connectivity throughout. The scheme included complete re-development of the building internally, as well as the addition of dormer windows to the third floor to create a modern contemporary office space. Following the tender and procurement processes, A W Hardy were administered under a JCT contract, and the scheme was completed in September 2023, ready for occupation.
Following completion of the extensive refurbishment works, John Logan MRICS from our Commercial Agency team was pleased to launch the 16 suites to the market and has received a good level of interest. We are pleased to report that the first two tenants took occupation of their suites in October and we are in negotiations with other parties regarding the remaining suites.
Whilst there are a few serviced office providers in Chelmsford, until recently there was limited supply of small, high specification office suites. Considering this, the level of interest received has come as little surprise, given the quality of accommodation on offer at Eagle House. The suites provide modern working environments in a central location backing onto Chelmsford’s premier retail and leisure area, Bond Street. With excellent car parking provisions and increasingly sought-after electric car charging points, Eagle House is a very attractive office building for occupiers to locate their businesses.
Following completion of the scheme and the handover to Chelmsford City Council, our Commercial Management team were appointed to take on full management of the multi-let site, including administering the service charge and day to day matters. Stephen Nash, Head of Commercial Property Management at Fenn Wright, brings a wealth of experience and offers a forward-thinking approach to the management of this modern office development in Chelmsford city centre.