Liverpool city centre office complex changes hands for £68m

Grade II-listed Exchange Flags comprises 359,558 of space across two buildings and is home to a number of businesses as well as the Western Approaches war museum. Tony McDonough reports

Exchange Flags
Exchange Flags in Liverpool’s commercial district has changed hands for £68m

 

Exchange Flags in Liverpool’s central business district has changed hands in a £68m deal – one of the highest prices paid for an office building in the city.

Ashtrom has acquired the Grade II-listed 359,558 sq ft building, which comprises Walker House and Horton House and overlooks Liverpool Town Hall, from Shelborn Asset Management.

Exchange Flags is home to a number of professional services businesses including law firms Brabners and DLA Piper, accountancy firm Deloitte and wealth manager Millen Capital as well as the Fazenda restaurant and the new El Gato Negro tapas venue.

And it also houses the historic Western Approaches Museum, which was the base for the Battle of the Atlantic operations centre during World War II and is now a popular city centre tourist attraction.

Its sale is the biggest office transaction in Liverpool since L&G’s £125m acquisition of India Buildings in Water Street in March 2018. That building is currently being refurbished for HMRC which is due to move in thousands of staff next year.

Exchange Flags was built in 1939 and in the late 1980s it was purchased by Liverpool businessman Bill Davies, all the former owner of Aintree Racecourse. Mr Davies left it largely empty until selling the complex in two separate deals in 2006 and 2007.

Ashtrom chief executive Guy Lewinsohn added: “Exchange Flags is an outstanding property and fittingly marks our debut acquisition in the UK. We see a bright future for the Liverpool commercial office market and plan to acquire more properties of similar characteristics as we continue to grow our portfolio in the UK.”

London-based Shelborn bought the site from Hudson two years ago for £42m and was represented in this latest deal by Knight Frank. Joshua Morris, a partner at Knight Frank, added: “The building represents a hugely unique investment opportunity. Headline rents for Exchange Flags currently stand at £17 per sq ft and are only expected to grow given the city’s strong supply/demand dynamics and the acute lack of good-quality office space in the city centre.”

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