Walker Morris is to relocate to 33 Wellington Street in Leeds—a move that the law firm said will be the largest professional services relocation in the city for almost 15 years.
The building is undergoing a comprehensive £10 million refurbishment to provide a premium working environment for Walker Morris with significantly improved sustainability credentials.
Walker Morris, which was advised by specialist property consultancy Fox Lloyd Jones, will move from its current locations split across two buildings on King Street into 76,000 square foot of fully renovated office space at the heart of the Leeds business district in summer 2019.
Once complete, the relocation will see all 500 members of Walker Morris’s staff together under one roof.
Malcolm Simpson, incoming managing partner of Walker Morris, commented: “This is a very exciting time for the firm. Walker Morris is a fantastic firm, with the best people, superb clients and a great future. The move is a significant investment by the partners and underlines the confidence we have in our future growth plans for the firm.”
“We are also investing heavily in our IT infrastructure, and the overall aim is to inspire our staff, and enable them to work more collaboratively and effectively; whether they are in the office, working remotely at home, with clients or on the move.”
The property, which was bought by Knight Frank Investment Management for Lancashire County Council Pension Fund from MEPC in 2010 for £20 million, was occupied by PWC for 20 years before the company moved to new headquarters in the city at Central Square in October 2016.
Eamon Fox, partner and head of office agency at global property consultancy Knight Frank in Leeds, commented: “This is one of the most significant office deals in Leeds during the past 12 months. The property is a flagship office building in a superb city centre location and it is fitting it will be now be home to one of Yorkshire’s finest law firms.”
John Styles of Knight Frank Investment Management added: “We are delighted to have collaborated with Walker Morris on this pre-let, which significantly de-risks the refurbishment project for the fund, will generate an attractive investment return and will create a very secure long-term asset.”
“The refurbishment is consistent with the fund’s investment return objectives and also its environmental, social and governance policy, which promotes the re-positioning of property assets as opposed to wholesale re-development.”
Construction work on the Wellington Street property has started through appointed contractor GMi Construction and it is expected that the building will be handed over to Walker Morris for internal fit-out in early 2019.