Putting the soul back into a building which despite being a landmark had lost its shine is no easy task. But it’s one that Alistair Campbell relishes.
Bringing the former Falkirk Post Office and the adjacent 1960s office block into use in the 21st century may have seemed like a challenge too far for some, but with a lifetime of experience in property development, one that he was more than ready and able to tackle.
Falkirk Business Hub opened six months ago and is already boasting a two-thirds occupation rate. The ethos behind the facility was honed over previous development projects and is to provide flexible, quality office accommodation for small to medium-sized businesses in a modern and engaging environment, all in an easily accessible location.
The Hub offers all that and more. Take Alistair’s guided tour and you can see his pride in what has been achieved.
As well as state-of-the-art offices suitable for two to 10 people, the Vicar Street building boasts a co-worker area where you can book in for meetings or plug in your laptop to work undisturbed. There is also a virtual office facility where your mail can be delivered and calls taken on your behalf.
The four-storey building boasts six meeting areas, one the impressive board room formally used by the postmaster and retaining the turret feature window.
It also has Jack’s Coffee House, open to the public, serving food and drink throughout the day, and a Wellness Centre run by Life Fit Physiotherapy, offering treatment and fitness classes.
Alistair admitted: “I don’t do things by half. I believe in doing it right or not at all which is why I wanted everything in this building to be the best we could provide.
“At this moment in time some people say that we are coming out of the recession, but I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. People are risk adverse and don’t want to sign up to anything for a long time.
“We’re offering facilities where business can set up and there is the opportunity after six month to stay where they are, come out or if they need to expand – it’s total flexibility.”
Business in 2014 has changed dramatically from 20 or even 10 years ago, and Alistair, who is managing director of Bellair (Scotland) Ltd, which runs The Hub, believes everyone needs to adapt to meet the changing demands.
He added: “It’s no longer a case of people having a five-year business plan, it’s a five-minute business plan. People want the opportunity to change. A high percentage of start-up businesses won’t last three years or their business will change dramatically.
“But people still want quality and a well-appointed location which we provide. They don’t want to have to worry about insurance or cleaning the windows and that’s all part of the service we provide.
“I’d like to say it’s all part of a masterplan but we’ve been lucky with everything coming together at the right time.”
Building up a sense of community among his tenants, who range from a beautician to a telecoms firm, lawyers to a weight loss company, is a priority.
“There are similar developments around where people come in, do their work and go home, perhaps never saying more than ‘hello’ to their neighbours
“We want The Hub to be more than that and have already had events where the tenants get together and learn from each other – adding to the building’s soul.”