Point House fuels demand for Hamilton office space
As newly renovated Point House comes online on the edge of the city of Hamilton, it is triggering an avalanche of activity in the city’s commercial rental sector.
"Point House is a substantial space with 90,000 to 100,000 square feet to offer,“ said Penny MacIntyre, a partner at Rego Sotheby's International Realty, the rental agent for the property.
”Not all of that is office space. But you are going to attract people who want to upgrade. That will cause a shift in the marketplace.”
There has been no shortage of top-tier firms that have considered the opportunity in the redeveloped space at 6 Front Street.
The multinational professional services company Aon was believed to be interested in three floors. Aon operates in 120 countries with about 50,000 employees.
It has long conducted a number of operations from Bermuda, including captive management and global broking. In both, Aon is among the largest in the world.
Also moving in was Convex, the international specialty re\insurer founded by Stephen Catlin and Paul Brand, on what is believed to be two top floors.
A spokesman for Convex told The Royal Gazette: "We are in the perfect position to expand our team and operation in Bermuda, and Point House provided us not only with the fresh and redeveloped space to accommodate and allow for this growth, but also with fantastic views of the Island in a bustling and thriving location."
As top companies move into the new space, their vacated offices are also rapidly filling with other companies also upgrading.
“Demand is high right now for trophy properties,” Ms MacIntyre said. “Our Class A and A+ rental properties are doing very well.”
She has seen a similar shift with other properties opening over the years, such as 141 Front Street (Seon Place) on the eastern side of Hamilton.
“With 141 Front Street, people were after the higher floors there and that caused a shift,” she said. “For some people it worked better to be on the eastern side of town. They lived close to town and they liked not having to drive through Hamilton during rush hour. This obviously was before the pandemic when things were busier.”
But Point House is not the only thing increasing demand for swanky Hamilton locations.
The pandemic is having an impact, because some companies are needing extra space to accommodate new social distancing requirements.
“For the most part, we are getting the demand from new investment or reinsurance companies,” Ms MacIntyre said.
“As they set up they look for high-end offices. They look for all the bells and whistles.
“They hope the new space has parking. They hope it has an outdoor balcony and views of the harbour and is within walking distance to grocery stores and bars that they frequent for client meetings and recruitment purposes.”
Ms MacIntyre said that parking availability, location and water views are key factors in making office space attractive in Hamilton. She thought that after Point House, Park Place, right behind it, could be classified as the second most-sought-after office space property in Hamilton.
“That has partial water views,” Ms MacIntyre said.
She said that there are not generally a lot of new builds in Hamilton, so demand is always high for newly refurbished buildings such as Point House.
And rental sales tend to happen at the end of a building or renovation project.
“For many people it is difficult to visualise what the end product will look like,” she said. “Once it is nearing completion, that is when you get some uptick. These types of properties do very well when they are constructed, and people can visualise standing in it.”
Point House previously belonged to HSBC Bermuda. In April 2019 it was purchased by the Green family, who own the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club on Pitts Bay Road. Refurbishment began in May 2019, and by September last year the top floors of the building were already completely rented.
The most-coveted spots in the building now average $90 to $100 per square foot — record rents for Hamilton, where high-end office space more typically goes for $60 to $70 per square foot.