A VITAL step in the transformation of St James’ Square has been completed, with local company the E-Factor, purchasing St James’ House.
The former office building has been bought by the E-Factor Group, which has plans to bring the building back to life using a £1.5m slice of Towns Fund money along with significant private investment.
The move provides a major boost for the Square and will pave the way for the building to be completely renovated and transformed into a business hub exclusively for local businesses.
Mark Webb, Managing Director of E-Factor, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that we can now plough on with our plans to develop this building and provide quality business accommodation for a variety of local businesses and entrepreneurs right in the town centre. There will also be space for business events and small conferences, all aimed at supporting local business people. This is a significant investment for our company, but we are determined to continue to be part of the positive story of growth in this area.
“We recognise that this building has been empty for some time and with our investment, supported by the Towns Fund, we are confident we can bring it back to life.
“We are an independent limited company, but every bit of our profits are reinvested in supporting the huge contribution local business owners and entrepreneurs make to this town. E-Factor will once again be providing wrap around business support, easy in easy out terms and all the guidance we can give to help create and grow successful local businesses. The more people who do business in the town centre, the better it will be for shops and restaurants also located there.”
North East Lincolnshire Council’s Cabinet approved a business case to help renovate the building last year with the use of Town Deal money. Whilst not putting any council cash into the scheme, authority approval was needed to enable the release of Government monies.
North East Lincolnshire Council leader, Cllr Philip Jackson, said: “The success of the Wilkin Chapman building on Cartergate and the redevelopment of St James’ Square, a key heritage asset in the town, meant that the next step was to deal with St James’ House in a way that can increase footfall in the town centre and provide benefit to other local businesses.
“I’m delighted E-Factor has taken this building on to bring a new dimension to St James’ Square, a fantastic heritage asset in our town centre. We are extremely pleased to support this scheme.”
Confirmation of the building’s new future has delighted those who have worked hard in the background to progress plans. This includes the Church’s representative body, the PCC (the Parochial Church Council) – the former owners of the building.
Fr Chris Hewitt, Vicar of Grimsby Minster and Chairman of the PCC, said: “St James’ House was built in the early 1970s and for many years provided offices and meeting space in the town centre for a variety of organisations including the council, the BBC and it also provided accommodation for the Parish office.
“More recently the building became surplus to requirements and over the last few years a number of alternative options were investigated, which unfortunately did not proceed. We took the decision to appoint Scotts Property to dispose of the building and they received a number of expressions of interest. We carefully considered these, not only from a financial perspective, but also with regard to the presence of Grimsby Minster and our social investment in St James’ Square and the surrounding area. The proposal from E-Factor provided the best fit and we are delighted to have sold the property to them. We look forward to seeing it play an important role in the future of St James’ Square and the town centre.”
Lawrence Brown, Managing Partner at property agents Scotts, explained: “We’ve been working with the PCC and the Minster, together with other agencies, for several years to try to bring forward various alternative uses for the building. We’ve considered residential conversions, offices, medical related uses, art galleries and cultural space together with retail and restaurant units.
“We’ve been so close on several occasions – most recently immediately prior to the lockdown at the start of the pandemic, but, as everyone knows, this changed everything. All of this work had taken place ‘behind the scenes’ and when we were instructed, by the PCC, to openly market the property we received lots of interest from a range of different people. After careful consideration the offer from E-Factor met the objectives of the PCC most closely and we can now look forward to seeing a refurbished building in the heart of the town centre.”
E-Factor Group Ltd (E-Factor), have been both developing and managing a portfolio of commercial properties around North East Lincolnshire for more than 12 years.