Colmore Capital Founder, David Corridan, explains why acquiring the 148,000 sq ft Grade A office park in Milton Keynes is perfect for what he is trying to do.
‘The Wavendon site is a perfect example of an environment that should prove extremely attractive for a return to the office, and an end to working from home,’ he says. ‘There’s seven or eight angles to this, the first being to make sure there’s adequate car parking. But the site also needs green spaces and biodiversity and, at least, the level of amenity people get at home. After a year of homeworking, nobody is going to want to be far from a fridge, or a good interesting place to have lunch, and basically this has to be a pleasant place to exist in.’
Colmore, who bought the property from a major fund, will asset-manage and improve the site and then, in four or five years (or less, or more) sell it on, probably to another big fund.
And for private equity operators like David, the bigger the refurbishment project the better, within reason. ‘We want to be able to produce property assets that we think will appeal to, and sell to, the broadest range of investors possible – because those investors themselves think about how saleable the assets will be for them, too. And, typically, that means a more wholescale refurbishment than something light touch, which will not produce the kind of asset that works today.’
The kind of big interventions David likes produce an element of ‘wow factor’ along with a genuine amenity that cheers people up: roof gardens are a particular favourite, and he cheerfully admits to installing them wherever possible.
It all adds up to counter-cyclical investment and development. ‘That’s certainly the aim,’ says David. ‘If we can find the right buildings to buy.’