Several recent hospitality lettings in the Jewellery Quarter have highlighted the increasing activity by businesses keen to invest in interesting & well located buildings in the area. It is clearly a further sign of gentrification but more seriously an increasing business acknowledgment of the size & demographic of the growing local residential audience, alongside the marked increase in numbers of outsiders now regularly coming for the evening. The move by Costa Coffee , taking the former William Hills betting shop in Frederick Street close to the Clock Tower, perhaps was inevitable, notwithstanding the strength of independent coffee shops nearby. It follows hard on the heels of the Damascena, the popular Middle East style coffee house, move last year into Warstone Lane. Other deals include the proposed Rolling Mills restaurant on Hall Street in former warehouse premises, now being converted by the backers of the popular Hen & Chicken. It will soon offer another vibrant eatery in the area, opening later this Spring .Nearby a New York style bar & grill on Constitution Hill will also soon open, being in the former Dex Trading building, a handsome raw double height ground floor industrial space. We noticed the high demand for the former Pickwicks café on Newhall Street, very recently available. It highlighted the wide range of businesses now searching for premises in the Jewellery Quarter, from continental delicatessens to neighbourhood cocktail bars. Interestingly it has been let short term as a café for local builders & site workers!
Alongside those in bars and restaurants there is growing number of marketing and design companies making the JQ the location of choice for their offices and a hub for the industry in the West Midlands. The combination of interesting work spaces alongside good bars and eateries, all within easy walking & tram access in the City core undoubtedly help. The synergy which happens between competing diverse firms within the same industry working in the same area also is a magnet for small & medium sized creative firms. Whilst the noise from the Digbeth promotion team is laud & often in the Press the reality is that Digbeth, immediately outside of The Custard Factory, is currently in a state of flux with large cleared building sites and empty properties sitting alongside fragmented residential. The P in potential I fear may remain there for the next ten years or more. Our experience is that a lot of small creative companies start their lives in Digbeth but look to migrate closer to the City Core & the Jewellery Quarter as they expand, needing additional experienced staff, especially female employees. This will change at some point in the future but that will not help you if your own business is expanding today.
The ripple from the growth of Jewellery Quarter is already positively effecting the Gun Quarter & the main arterial routes around the area. Those handsome nineteenth century properties on Great Hampton Street are already in the firing line for conversion & redevelopment. The rag trade & mobile phone part trade outlets have probably passed their sell by dates & now need the injection of investment plus fresh thinking. This regeneration is currently being helped by the Blackswan Gilders Yard development now moving forward. Not far the Legal & General backed Hockley Mills in Pitsford Street has just broken ground as a large mixed use scheme. This undoubtedly will influence activity near Icknield Street. The former Sytner BMW garage on Summer Hill Road being another development site will further influence the commercial & residential activity across the carriageway in that area .Finally and very positively the large lump of derelict car park space fronting the Queensway by Ludgate Hill has recently been bought by Moda Living & soon will become the natural residential and commercial link from the Jewellery Quarter into the City Core. With all these large fringe sites being built & then held by investment funds the jewellery Quarter as a location is set for further price growth.