Nov 9 2010 by Denis Brown, Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
ICONIC Fair City property, the Old Academy, has changed hands again – just four years after it last went under the hammer.
In a recently finalised property deal, Cowiesburn Asset Management brokered the purchase on behalf of an anonymous cashed-up client from Aberdeenshire.
Frederick Properties, which bought the Grade A-listed Rose Terrace property in June 2006 while the property boom was at its peak, is understood to have sold it for a six-figure sum.
A spokesman for Cowiesburn, which will manage the building – and sitting tenants Hardies LLP, Hays Recruitment and BusinessInsure – said the sale price was believed to be less than the 2006 price tag.
“Cowiesburn are delighted as securing the purchase of this stunning historical building and prestigious office location in Perth is their biggest ever deal,” he said.
“Nothing is going to change, the ownership deeds have been sold but the standing commercial leases will be honoured.
“The new owner is looking at an initial annual rent of £75,000 with upcoming reviews increasing this in the short to medium term, so it’s in his interest to keep the tenants in there.
“At the moment commercial property is the best investment option, with a much better yield than stocks or shares or savings accounts because investment rates are so low and the economy is in such bad shape.”
The deal for the Georgian building – comprising 10,000-sq ft divided into seven open-plan office suites – represents a net initial yield of 9.4%.
Back in 2006 when Frederick Properties acquired the building from Muirfield Investments, which had revamped the internal office space in the 1990s, the net initial yield was 8.71%.
The Cowiesburn spokesman was unable to confirm how long the North Inch facing property had been back on the market, but it is believed to have been at least a year.
He was unaware of any immediate plans to spruce up its facade, but said he was sure that maintenance would be in the pipeline.
The building, designed by renowned Scottish architect Robert Reid and finished in 1807, was the original home of Perth Academy until the school outgrew it and relocated to the city’s Viewlands area in 1932.
In 1961 Perth College UHI cut its teeth at the building teaching trades to Fair City apprentices.
A Perth and Kinross Council spokesman said the building had never been council owned.
Reid, who died in 1856, was the King's architect and surveyor for Scotland from 1827 to 1839.
His most prominent public work was the facade of Parliament Square in Edinburgh, which houses the Court of Session, and he also played a key role in planning parts of the capital’s Georgian New Town.
Striking features of the Old Academy include a domed Octagonal room – the former school assembly hall – ashlar symmetrical five-window frontage, arched tripartites and coupled Roman Doric columns.
But the stand-out element of the facade is a retro-fitted clock and statue of Britannia on the balustraded parapet – the work of sculptor John Rhind – symbolising an era when Britain still ruled the waves.
Britannia, the personification of our island nation, has Roman origins and first appeared on copper coins of the Emperor Hadrian who visited Britain in AD 122.