Case Study

Achmea and CBRE create a win-win-win situation with sales in Leeuwarden

The Avérotoren – or Avéro Tower – in the heart of Leeuwarden immediately captures your attention. This black office building with square windows was once the headquarters of insurance company Achmea for many years, just like the surrounding buildings on Lange Marktstraat. However, Achmea no longer has the same needs as it did 20 years ago, which led to 9,000 m² of office space to gradually become surplus to their needs. Achmea quickly found a new tenant and buyer in a short amount of time thanks to the efforts of CBRE.

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Newer times call for less floor space

‘A 34-hour working week is the standard for us”, said Erik de Rooij, Asset Manager at Achmea. “It had also been part of our working traditions to work from home for part of the week. All of that was implemented from an employee welfare perspective. If we add automation to that, you understand that we need less office space than before – when we still had a 40-hour work week and employees had to be on the floor. We no longer need the use of all the buildings that we purchased in Leeuwarden between the 1970s-00s”.

Earlier successes reached

Achmea’s reduced need for floor space had already seen them merge two buildings on Lange Marktstraat and let them to one tenant. ‘It’s quite unique that this worked out” said De Rooij. “That’s because it involved a considerable floor area, while companies appeared to be divesting their offices. At the time, CBRE helped us out with the rental and was able to connect us to a good party. They proposed the idea of merging the two properties, and in that way, we were able to meet the tenant’s demand”.
We had no concrete plans for the Avérotoren when CBRE came to us again: they had heard that there was interest on the market.

Tenant signs-up for owner-occupied property

The Avérotoren, a design by the Frisian architect Abe Bonnema, was the next building that Achmea was pleased to divest from its portfolio. “We had no concrete plans for the Avérotoren when CBRE came to us again. they had heard that there was interest on the market,” says De Rooij. "That was great, but there was one problem. The interested party wanted to rent the property, while we wanted to sell it’.

A quest for the missing link

Achmea was not interested in renting the space for a second time so a different was needed. “CBRE came up with the idea to put a buyer in between”, said De Rooij. “That would have been an ideal construction, if it were not for the fact that the buyer had to be sought and found. The tenant –UWV – had wanted certainty about the property’s availability. That meant we were left on a quest for the missing link – who wanted to assume the property from us in the short term?”.

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Not a turnkey space

De Rooij said that there was another complicating factor. “To begin with, the Avérotoren really needed a facelift. The building also had to be disconnected from other Achmea buildings to which it was intimately connected, including the technical installations and emergency exits. Those necessary facelifts had to be covered by the buyer – which made it less attractive on the market”.
CBRE was very confident that they would find a buyer. We relied on their network and expertise. So we went for it

Continuing based on trust

Despite all that, Achmea, CBRE and UWV decided to go for it. ‘CBRE was very confident that they would find a buyer” said De Rooij. “We relied on their network and expertise. We accepted the offer from UWV to rent the tower, and we could offer certainty to them until 1 May 2021 at the latest. Given it was summer 2020 by then, we didn’t have that much time”.
CBRE quickly found a buyer that accepted our terms

All the pieces coming together

That was an exciting move, but CBRE soon came up with the final word. “They found a buyer who accepted our terms”, said De Rooij. “Time Equities, an American real estate company, was willing to make arrangements and pay for the essential renovations. The deciding factor for their decision was that we already had a tenant, so they were assured of a good ROI. That meant everything came together nicely in the end”.

The only thing left

All arrangements have now been made. De Rooij: “We closed the deal on January 1, 2021, and the transfer was made on May 1, 2021. Time Equities will now set to work on the renovations, and the UWV will move to Lange Marktstraat next year. That means yet another success – we are pleased that CBRE got all the moving parts together and ensured that there are now three satisfied parties. This is, in short, a win-win-win situation”.
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