Council completes purchase of landmark building for regeneration project
A landmark building in St Albans City Centre has been bought to help finance a major regeneration project.
St Albans City and District Council has completed the purchase of Lockey House, St Peter’s Street, for £6.25 million.
The three-storey building already has a number of established tenants including branches of the Nationwide Building Society, Barclays Bank and Virgin Money.
The Council has financed the acquisition with a low-cost loan from the Public Works Loan Board which helps local authorities invest in infrastructure and other services
It is intended to use the rental income, after loan repayments and other costs are deducted, to help pay for the regeneration of the nearby Civic Centre area.
In particular, the Council has earmarked the money for a much-needed redevelopment of the Alban Arena entertainment venue.
An Advisory Reference Group of stakeholders, Councillors and the Council’s project team is considering how the Arena and surrounding area should be redeveloped to meet the many post-pandemic challenges facing the City Centre.
The Arena, which was built in the 1960s, is no longer fit for purpose to attract more touring shows, meet a wider range of entertainment needs and improve the customer experience.
In addition, the need to provide more public green space in this location is under consideration along with possible new facilities for cultural events and education as well as a covered market to complement the housing and commercial space elsewhere in the project.
Lockey House is situated close to the Arena and the surrounding area which the Council has called the City Centre Opportunity Site (CCOS).
Building work has already started on a £60 million project to create two new residential and commercial buildings on CCOS South.
This is on the site of a former police station and NHS clinic, both of which has been demolished.
The Council is also looking to develop CCOS North which includes the Civic Centre car park and this is now expected to be included in the same redevelopment project as the Arena and the space around it.
Councillor Robert Donald, Portfolio Holder for Commercial, Development and Wellbeing, said:
I’m very pleased that we have purchased Lockey House and can now continue with the next phase of our ambitious City Centre regeneration project.
This is an unexpected opportunity that has come at just the right time for the Council and enables us to bring forward our plans for this whole area with the help of the Advisory Reference Group.
The funding required for the Alban Arena and surrounding site would have been much harder to achieve without the rental income from this investment being available.
Lockey House is a large building, providing flexible business and retail space located right in the heart of the City bordering the civic centre and already boasts a number of blue-chip anchor tenants.
It is an outstanding addition to our property portfolio and allows us to press ahead sooner than we had expected with our exciting plans to regenerate what has become a rather tired area of the civic centre.
Our emerging design proposals for this site aim to ensure St. Albans continues to be a vibrant place post-COVID which remains economically healthy and visitors, shoppers, workers and residents alike want to come to along to in the future.
Pictures: Lockey House.