Grimsby town centre strategic land and property portfolio goes on market for £1.5m

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 13 Nov 2018

A town centre land and property portfolio, once eyed up as a potential site for a “Grimsby Gherkin,” has hit the market.

Investor and developer John Sills’ interests around Victoria Street and Upper Burgess Street – overlooking the key junction with the A16 Peaks Parkway and Frederick Ward Way – are being offered for sale for £1.5 million, as he calls time on his commercial property career.

It includes properties leased to a variety of different tenants, and the strategic parcel of land he bought back in 2010, where he had hoped to bring forward a scaled-down version of the architecturally-acclaimed City of London masterpiece for his home town.

“I think it is a wonderful development site simply because it is so prominent as you come down Victoria Street,” the 64-year-old said. “With a car park at the back it would make a very nice site as a company headquarters.”

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In no way suggesting a similar size to what is officially 30 St Mary Axe, he said the site footprint and neighbouring telephone exchange meant any development leant itself to significant height.

John Sills, left, with Michael Searle, partner with Bridge McFarland solicitors and Lawrence Brown, right, of Scotts, when the former Spring Church was bought in 2012.

Having first invested in 1991, further acquisitions followed, with the five-storey Burgess Court development in 2008 bringing 18 flats and commercial units forward on the site of the former Baptist Tabernacle. The residential element was sold in 2009 to a social hosing provider, with the freehold and ground floor space retained.

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Deals for the land behind followed in 2010 with neighbouring Duke of Wellington pub operator Mitchells and Butler, and the former Spring Church in 2012 – then owned by businessman and former Grimsby Town FC director Clive Aspinall – which also enjoys a prominent position over the busy junction, and is currently used as affordable office space.

Acquiring that paved the way for his grand plan, as the country emerged from the vice-like grip of a deep recession. At the time he said he would wait for the right economic conditions, or act should an appropriate occupier come along, but six years on the sale boards are going up.

“It will be interesting to see what happens, as most of the buildings have not been offered for sale for a very long time,” Mr Sills added.

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Lawrence Brown, of Scotts, is handling the sale or sales, with potential to split some of the portfolio.

He said: “These premises have been acquired over a number of years and are all clustered together. For an investor looking to make a strategic investment into the town this portfolio offers a great opportunity.

“Our client has asked us to sell these because they are looking at investing the proceeds into new and exciting projects for the future.”

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