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JIFC - Protecting what we have and providing new opportunities

We’ve been seeing a lot of the public’s comments and concerns over social media about the JIFC and there appears to be some confusion that the project is only meant for new businesses. This is simply not true! This blog aims to clear up the JIFC’s purpose and identify the positive aspects for Jersey’s existing businesses and Islanders wishing to live in St Helier.

We are currently in conversations with over 20 tenants that have a cumulative requirement for 325,000 sq. ft. of office space. These are existing on-island businesses that want to relocate to new modern office space when their current leases expire.   

In order to start any JIFC building, a significant pre-let is required. New businesses coming to Jersey will typically have smaller office requirements - between 2,000 sq.ft. and 5,000 sq.ft. - which would not be a sufficient pre-let to commence any JIFC building and meet the requirements of our Memorandum of Understanding with our Shareholder, the Minister for Treasury and Resources or the requirement of the proposition that established JDC (P73/2010). Further, new businesses also work on shorter timescales and will require a building to be physically complete before making any real commitment. 

In our Environmental Impact Assessments for the JIFC published in February 2013, we predicted that 85% of the occupiers will be existing local businesses. Operational efficiencies can’t be achieved if businesses are operating out of multiple offices that are out-of-date, and if Jersey does not provide the new modern office space it runs the risk of those businesses moving away or focusing their growth in other jurisdictions. This would be severely damaging for Jersey’s economy and the Island’s prosperity! This said, it is arguably more important for Jersey provide the right office infrastructure for our existing businesses than it is to attract new business to the Island. 

We have already had some very positive feedback from several large finance industry employers regarding the opportunities for growth, efficiency and promotion that the JIFC presents.

Geoff Cook, CEO of Jersey Finance, stated in a letter from 15 April 2013 that it is “vital that Jersey is able to offer facilities that are at least equal to those that may be found in comparable and rival centres.” He also stated that a dedicated financial services district “acts as a significant positive attractor for company location, business flows and jurisdictional substance and reputation.” 

The office space left behind by businesses moving to the JIFC will vacate secondary office space that younger, growing businesses can move into. This leaves tertiary office space, vacated by the smaller, growing businesses – typically this space is no longer fit for purpose, so can be redeveloped into residential accommodation, creating more homes for people living in St. Helier.

There have been a few recent examples where vacated tertiary office space has had a positive impact on St Helier’s regeneration by being converted into residential accommodation. These include: the former Voisin Law / Volaw offices in Don Street that were developed into 41 apartments, the former PwC offices in Colomberie where there is now a Co-op Locale on the ground floor plus 19 apartments, and the former RBSi offices on Bath Street (previously known as Capital House and now called The Bath House) which was redeveloped into 16 apartments.