Blenheim Developments is hoping to buck the trend with a series of projects in Sheffield and Leeds.
The Sheffield business, which owns Beauchief Hall, bought the Brincliffe House office block off Ecclesall Road from construction group J F Finnegan for £500,000 just before Christmas.
More recently, the Kelham Island-based business paid £3 million for the site of a former chemical works in Leeds.
Blenheim has invested £500,000 in the Beauchief Hall Estate, developing the outbuildings, which have since been sold by separate tender.
The company has secured planning permission to convert the Grade II listed main hall, previously occupied by computer group EDP, back to residential use and is currently seeking a buyer for the premises for around £1.6million.
Blenheim is thinking of converting Brincliffe House into an appartment block, dubbed Blenheim Reach.
However, following strong interest from local office occupiers, the group is also considering retaining it as offices. Blenheim’s Peter Burrows says: “I believe that the future is slowly moving to the residential market, but we have already had keen interest from office tenants for Blenheim Reach, which leads me to think that the market is picking up in city centre locations. However,” he adds, “I think it will be some time before the out of town market is anywhere close to what it was.”
Peter Burrows believes that, despite continuing difficulties in the property market, there are opportunities that a company like Blenheim can capitalise on.
“Obviously the property market is still an incredibly tough place to be, but, with the resetting of values, you can be more imaginative.
“I think that this year could possibly be the toughest year, but that could also indicate that, towards the back end of this year and into the next, there could be more interest from residential developers, both nationally and regionally.”
Blenheim is currently reviewing plans for the former chemical works it has acquired in Kirkstall Road, Leeds.
The site closed in 2006, was cleared and has planning permission for the construction of about 1.5 million sq ft of office space, residential units and a green urban park.
However, Peter Burrows says the market has moved on since then and Blenheim is thinking of amending the proposals so that it can create 120 family properties on part of the site between the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool Canal, instead of apartment blocks containing 1,200 flats.
Blenheim Properties was extablished in 2002 to redevelop Lion Works in Kelham Island, where it still has its offices.
Since that successful project it has gone on to redevelop other properties in the area, including the building that now houses the Milestone retaurant, as well as a former industrial works in Abbeydale and Darnall Works.