Businessman who bought Hartlepool town centre offices for just £1 reveals plans for site
A businessman who has bought town centre offices for just £1 has revealed his plans for the premises.
Joseph Zekaria, the new owner of Bovis House, in Victoria Road, Hartlepool, hopes the former job centre will live up to its past role by creating employment for up to 100 people.
Mr Zekaria bought the three-storey building for just £1 after hearing about it by accident when he was outbid for another property at a London auction last month.
He explained: “I was on my way out and then this property came up.
“It had a guide price of £10,000 and I wasn’t really taking any notice until the price came down to £1,000, £100, £5 and then £1.
"I put my hand up at £1 and felt sure that the price would start to increase. Then suddenly the hammer dropped and it was sold to me.”
Despite the price he paid, Mr Zekaria, 37, from London, admits there is already pressure to find tenants.
While existing ground-floor businesses are paying around £21,000 in rent, the £38,000 freehold and additional general costs mean that his £1 investment could potentially become a £25,000 loss after a year.
Mr Zekaria said: “It is not something we will make a million from. But, having said that, we would not have bought it if we did not think we could turn it around. I am excited by it.”
He hopes the upstairs offices will be ready for occupation in around three months after the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions, which owned the 18,000 sq ft building while it was a job centre, funds outstanding repairs.
Mr Zekaria admitted that Bovis House was the first property his Alpamint Capital property company had bought north of Birmingham and added: “I cannot see one big company coming in and filling all the space.
“We have already had interest from charities and a few retailers and it could be that graduates from the art school could use some of it as studio space.
“It can comfortably fit 50 to 100 people and if we can fill it it will be of benefit to the surrounding area as a whole with people spending money in businesses on their lunchtimes.”