The group of investors from Hangzhou and Guangzhou regions in China has bought a Grade-II listed 130 Colmore Row from Birmingham council. This marks the first Chinese investment in commercial property outside the capital.
According to the plans, the 5,500 sq ft Edwardian structure will be redeveloped into multi-use Chinese-oriented business centre and commercial space.
The building, built in 1903, used to be the office of Alliance Assurance. It is located next to the well-known historical buildings in the city, Birmingham City Council House and Birmingham Town Hall.
The consortium of investors is working closely with former Wragge & Co lawyers James Ng and Anthony McCourt.
Mr Ng said: “I have felt for a long time that one of the unique selling points for this project is to have a Grade A office location for mainland Chinese people to do work in Birmingham.
“One of my main desires is to see whether Birmingham could attract a Chinese consulate. Manchester has one, I don’t see why we shouldn’t. This building would be ideal for that.”
On the other hand, Mr McCourt commented: “In the last four or five months we have overcome the issue of convincing Chinese high net-worth individuals to invest in the city.
“There is lots of competition for this from Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds.
“What I really like about the Chinese group we are working with is they are in it for the long-term.
“This is a 150-year investment, because that is how long the lease is.”
He added: “There is more money there and we are looking at other opportunities like this.
“I think the key thing is we have come through a six-month conversation about the fact that we are buying something that could make money or could lose money.
“They are now a stakeholder in this city. They have a listed asset in the civic part of the city and now their focus is on creating jobs.”