Phase One of Nikal’s Exchange Square project in Birmingham City Centre has marked a key milestone with an official ‘topping out’ ceremony attended by The Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Yvonne Mosquito.
Also known as Allegro, the first two buildings of the build-to-rent scheme are complete and the final 27-storey tower is on track for completion in November this year. Main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine celebrated progress along with representatives from Nikal and LaSalle Investment Management. Contractors and suppliers were invited to attend, 60% of which were from Birmingham and the West Midlands, and were thanked for their role in the development’s delivery.
Allegro was Birmingham’s first significant build-to-rent scheme and acted as a catalyst for further BTR in the city. LaSalle Investment Management forward funded the development on behalf of one of the UK’s largest pension funds in a £105m deal – one of the largest forward funding deals for a scheme of this size outside of London.
Allegro offers 603 high quality rental apartments making it the largest build-to-rent development in the city, with a mix of studio, one, two- and three-bedroom apartments available for rent. Prices start at £800pcm for a one-bedroom apartment and all residents can enjoy exclusive access to a 20,000 sq ft landscaped roof garden and 5,000 sq ft ‘hub’ that includes a concierge, parcel lockers and a members’ club-style lounge.
Communications with the concierge and access to the parcel lockers can all be done via a bespoke Allegro App. Other services available through the App range from dog walking to private doctor appointments, as well as dry cleaning and apartment cleaning.
Residents’ health and well-being is another top priority at Allegro with a recently launched ‘wellness centre’ that offers residents inclusive state-of-the-art gym equipment, provided by industry leaders Technogym. Residents can also enjoy on-demand access to four of Urban Training’s top personal trainers. In addition to regular work out assistance, the PT’s offer on-site lifestyle consultations and health MOT’s as well as weekly group exercise classes that will help build community spirit within the complex.
Within the development is 30,000 sq ft of prime retail/leisure space that opens onto new landscaped public realm creating an ‘urban village’ feel and providing residents and the local community with new amenity and entertainment options. The retail/leisure space has just been released for rent by Birmingham based agents, Rapleys.
The ‘Topping Out’ ceremony was staged in the residents’ landscaped roof garden where Hector McAlpine, Executive Partner of Sir Robert McAlpine addressed guests, saying, “Our company vision, ‘Proudly Building Britain’s Future Heritage’, is no more relevant than here at Exchange Square. We are proud to be part of the team to deliver luxury rental apartments and to play our role in enabling tenants to live in a new Urban Village in the centre of Birmingham.”
Speaking at the event, Nick Payne, Nikal Co-founder and Managing Director, said “This is a significant milestone in our history with this site and with Birmingham. To give you an idea of the scale of this project I can tell you that it has employed over 500 people, 60% of them from the local area. It contains over one million bricks, each one expertly laid by hand in 32 layers. There are 898 bedrooms, 3,000 internal doors, 5,000 taps and 3,600 windows – each one looking out over this fantastic city.
“It is a pleasure to be able to say that, along with our esteemed colleagues at LaSalle, Sir Robert McAlpine and all their trusted contractors and suppliers, we built this. Well done everybody,” he added.
Hector McAlpine introduced Andrew Stanford, Head of UK Residential at LaSalle Investment Management, who was given the honour of ringing the handbell to mark the official start of the ceremony and, in line with ‘topping out’ tradition, awarded a tankard of ale to the development’s Works Manager after he nailed an evergreen bough to the ceremonial structure.
Andrew Stanford said, “The topping out of Allegro is a key moment in the evolution of La Salle’s build to rent portfolio. Since 2015, nearly £500 million has been invested or committed across seven schemes on behalf of our clients. These schemes will provide over 2,000 homes across the country and an entirely new customer experience for the rental market.”
Exchange Square is the latest element in Nikal’s £350million Masshouse Project. Envisioned five years before the dawn of ‘The Big City Plan’, Nikal developed a masterplan for the regeneration of land formerly occupied by Masshouse Circus, the ‘concrete collar’ ring road enclosing the city core. Due to its prime location at the edge juncture between the Snow Hill and Curzon Street masterplans, the strategic site provides a dynamic link between the expanding city core and the ‘Eastside – Area of Transformation’. It will also be one of the first developments visible to those arriving at the city via HS2 Curzon Street Station in 2026.
Nikal’s ambitions for the 2.75-acre site have evolved to pre-empt changing market conditions. Original plans for large scale hotel and office uses were amended to residential use in 2014, reflecting the city’s escalating requirement for new homes. Exchange Square is being delivered in two phases with Nikal having just submitted revised plans for Phase Two that include 375 build-to-rent apartments forward funded by Grainger plc and a 235-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and 6,000 sq ft Bar + Block restaurant, pre-let to Whitbread plc.
To view the live webcam at Exchange Square Phase One, please visit the Nikal website.