Blog: Phil Mayall, development director at Muse Developments: Delivering the right commercial offering for Chester.
When we look at the viability of commercial development in towns and cities, there is a lot to weigh up. Is there a strong transport network, are there nearby local amenities, is there a thriving talent pool, if we build it, will they come? When we first started to consider Chester back in 2009 there was some slight trepidation in that the city was obviously smaller than its powerhouse neighbours of Manchester and Liverpool. But, the more we researched and consulted locally in the city, the more we realised that the answers to many, if not all of these questions was yes.
In 2010 we undertook an in-depth analysis of the city as a whole, which pointed out that Chester was a city with rental growth, a thriving economy, excellent transport connections to London and access to a sustainable and competitive workforce. All points which reinforced our view that it was indeed the right place for Muse to invest.
Working in close collaboration with Cheshire West and Chester Council, we became quietly confident that we could develop something new and exciting for businesses in the city. A scheme that would be at the forefront of Chester’s renaissance but also part of with the wider plans for the city, kick starting economic regeneration in Chester and driving future public/private investment and development.
Six years and a lot of hard work later, it has now been just over 10 months since we launched One City Place, which is the first phase of Chester’s Central Business Quarter. The aim of the scheme has always been simple, to develop a destination within the city which would attract and retain businesses by giving them a high quality commercial offering. And to provide the business community with options that they hadn’t had before.
Audit, tax and consulting firm RSM, Energy specialist Power Solutions (UK) Ltd and Law firm Excello Law have already confirmed their commitment to the scheme. Fit outs are underway and they will be moving in imminently, which is a really exciting milestone and we have a really strong pipeline of interest so will be making further announcements in the near future.
So, as One City Place starts to fill up, there is palpable buzz about the scheme in the city. It is the first speculative office development to be built in Chester city centre in recent years, which is fantastic for Chester as it reflects real confidence in the market. And the fact that it is a Grade A, BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated also ticks a number of boxes for occupiers looking for high quality office space, which is reflected in the strong interest we’ve received from businesses across the region.
We are very proud of what we have achieved so far from a commercial perspective but also culturally. With the events that we hold at our newly renovated Carriage Shed we are significantly contributing to Chester’s ‘What’s On’ guide. The Artisan Fair’s which we have been holding throughout the summer months have been very popular, often attracting thousands of people to come and see what the local area’s producers and independent retailers have to offer.
So, City Place is fast becoming a completely new ‘place’ in Chester, a new destination for people to work, meet and share ideas, spend time in and enjoy, something which ultimately, every developer wants to achieve with their mixed use schemes and especially with new ventures into new cities.