Subsidiary of entertainment giant Sony agrees 11.5-year lease 50,000 sq ft of space in historic Liverpool building. Tony McDonough reports
Video games developer Firesprite is to relocate its Liverpool city centre operation and is taking 50,000 sq ft at the Duke & Parr building in Duke Street.
A subsidiary of entertainment giant Sony, Firesprite will move from its current home in the Vanilla Factory in Fleet Street to the former headquarters of Bibby Line Group. It will house up to 400 staff at the building where it has taken an 11.5-year lease.
This is the biggest office letting in the city centre for three years. In 2019 Sony agreed to take 65,000 sq ft at Echo Place in Old Hall Street, the former headquarters of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.
Bibby, one of the oldest businesses in Liverpool, sold its former Duke Street headquarters to CERT Property in 2019, and relocated its team to Exchange Flags. This Grade II-listed building was also formerly a public library.
CERT undertook a refurbishment of the building with the support of almost £5m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. This comprised £2.96m from the CA’s Urban Development Fund and £2.1m from its Chrysalis Fund.
This funding unlocked the project at a time when commercial funding was not available. A refinancing agreement is now in place which has enabled those loans to be repaid into the two funds. This means the money will be recycled to support further city region projects.
CERT Property founder Howard Lord, said: “We began construction of Duke & Parr in April 2020, right at the height of the pandemic. At the time there was a whole shift in perspective in the way in which we work.
“It became clear that the office was no longer a core necessity to employees and businesses. People began evaluating their workspace, comparing the benefits of working from home with the nature of the traditional office.
“Understanding this, we wanted to create a property which viewed the office as a destination – a creative hub which inspires and connects people.
“This lease with a world-leading games and entertainment giant is testament to the team who worked with us on this project to deliver the vision we had to create an inspiring workplace that would attract occupiers in the post-pandemic role of the workplace.”
CERT’s renovation of the building has been shortlisted for several property awards. It removed the superficial 1990s additions of previous occupiers, showcasing historical 1800s features.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram added: “We’ve injected huge investments into property, regeneration and sustainability projects through our £35m Chrysalis Fund, which has generated more than £100m worth of development activity.
“Hopefully, the £5m we’ve awarded to this development will create a first-class space in the city to grow and develop – and continue to supercharge our area’s credentials as a leading tech cluster.”