Bidders lining up to buy Civic Centre from council
THE Civic Centre is expected to be sold next June – six years almost to the day after it was unexpectedly listed.
Council plans to demolish the 1962 building and redevelop the site were aborted in June 2007 after English Heritage slapped Grade II-listed status on the civic headquarters and its neighbouring Council House.
A bidders' day at the Guildhall last month drew 36 interested parties, representing 22 different organisations.
They included property developers, the construction industry, project management, architects, surveyors and funders, Cabinet member Councillor Mark Lowry told a scrutiny panel yesterday.
As part of any deal, the council is looking to lease back 4,100 square metres of the tower for key staff.
Most of the 1,000 workers who are now based in the Civic Centre would move to new offices, but the Council House would remain as it is.
"It would be nice to think that we could get a four-star or five-star hotel occupying the upper floors, and perhaps get back the restaurant on the top floor," Mr Lowry said.
The council is looking to sell off the freehold, and any buyer would have to obtain planning permission and listed building consent for their proposed developments. To protect existing retailers, they will not be allowed to have any shops on the site, except for those that form part of an hotel.
Mr Lowry said he also wanted the investor to take on and develop the open-air car park behind the Civic Centre. But a new car park there would not be for the public, to protect the council's own car parking business.
Bidders will be marked on the basis of value for money, creating jobs and impact on the environment.
The pre-qualification process will culminate next June, when the contract is awarded to one of the bidders.