Major £13m i9 office development backed to create 300 jobs
A £13 million spend for a modern new office block in Wolverhampton – expected to create more than 300 jobs – has been given the go-ahead.
The city council's cabinet has approved the investment that will see a stylish three-cornered building erected next to the transformed railway station as part of the £132m interchange project.
The council-owned Railway Street car park was also declared surplus to requirements to enable the office block to be built.
Councillor John Reynolds, cabinet member for city economy, said: "We know there is demand for high-quality office accommodation. We know the benefits that the HS2 line to Birmingham will bring to the city.
"The success of i10 as an office development has demonstrated the demand. The £13m cost of i9 will pay for itself in rental income and also create 300 jobs in the city in shops, cafes, restaurants and offices. It's a really good investment."
A report to cabinet by Paul Lakin, the council's head of city development, suggested that a lack of quality office space in the city centre has held the city back in the past.
Now there was speculation that the government will create a raft of new agencies as a result of Brexit, and these would be located outside London as part of the government's drive to open up the civil service.
"i9 may be primed to capitalise upon this decentralisation," said the report.
It added: "The additional business employees in this location will generate additional spending power into the local economy and should have a strong benefit on the success of local food and drink outlets, including those in i10 and i11."
The offices, to be built by property developers Ion, are expected to create 330 full-time jobs. The Black Country Consortium has estimated that the building will generate Gross Value Added of £79m.
The cabinet was told that because of the high costs associated with building new office blocks that very few were being constructed, helping to increase demand for i9.
The council will own the finished building but will use Ion to manage the construction and secure the initial lettings. i9 will provide 50,000 sq ft of office space for businesses when it is completed in 2020.
Councillor Reynolds said the rental guarantee mitigated the commercial risk to the council.
The closure of the Railway Street car park would result in the loss of 40 car parking spaces with a 'negligible' impact on revenue income, particularly as it was likely that motorists would use instead the council-owned Broad Street site or other city centre car park sites.