Leeds: Developer buys Victoria Quarter in £136m deal

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Developer Hammerson is buying Leeds’ Victoria Quarter in a £136m deal that it says will compliment its proposals for the Eastgate Quarters scheme.

Hammerson announced yesterday (Sept 11) that it had exchanged contracts to acquire the shopping centre from real estate firm Kennedy Wilson on behalf of owner Bank of Ireland Private Banking.

The shopping centre houses more than 70 fashion and lifestyle brands, including the flagship Harvey Nichols store. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported last month that Hammerson was understood to be in negotiations to buy the so-called “Knightsbridge of the North”.

David Atkins, chief executive of Hammerson, said: “Our purchase of the Victoria Quarter is a further demonstration of our commitment to Leeds, following the announcement of our plans for Eastgate Quarters in July. Victoria Quarter is a retail landmark in Leeds, and our ownership of the scheme will help us to develop a comprehensive retail offer for Eastgate Quarters and expand the luxury and aspirational retail offer for the city.”

Hammerson said the Victoria Quarter is 100 per cent let, adding: “Leeds has an affluent population and a prominent position as the principal shopping destination in Yorkshire.”

The firm recently announced that it had agreed to a 260,000 sq ft flagship John Lewis store, which will form part of Harewood, the first phase of its Eastgate Quarters retail project. It will create a direct route from the Victoria Quarter to the new stores. Restaurants, additional leisure space and a multi-storey car park are also planned. Hammerson said a detailed planning application for Eastgate Quarters will be submitted in spring 2013 and the first phase is expected to be completed in 2016.

Hammerson confirmed in June the sale of the bulk of its London office portfolio to Brookfield Office Properties for £518m. The move is in line with its strategy of becoming a specialist retail property company.

Hammerson was advised on the Victoria Quarter transaction by DTZ, Strutt & Parker and Nabarro. Kennedy Wilson was advised by CBRE and Trowers & Hamlins. Bank of Ireland, which bought the centre from Highstone Estates, owned by entrepreneur Paul Sykes, for £126m in 2006, declined to comment yesterday.