A £6.6m development to help house the next generation of city businesses is taking shape off the A1231 Sunderland Highway.
The 5,200sq metre Washington Business Centre at Barmston Developments Turbine Business Park is being built for Sunderland City Council and is designed to help attract, start and grow a range of businesses.
It is located at the entrance to the business park, close to Nissan and the heart of the region’s automotive hub, and inside Sunderland’s Carbon Enterprise Zone.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is funding half of the centre’s costs.
There will be space for more than 30 businesses and it could help create or sustain more than 200 jobs.
Washington Councillor and Deputy leader of Sunderland City Council Harry Trueman, has taken a close interest in the development.
He said: “If we want to see businesses grow then it’s very important that there’s space and premises for them to grow into.
“This Washington Business Centre is for the next generation of our businesses.
“All businesses start somewhere and need a base for their works. We and others are always looking to the next generation of city businesses and here’s a good reminder on how Sunderland is open for to businesses and open for business.”
GMI Construction started on site in July and, after piling and foundations works, a 65 ton crane is now helping with the 160 tons of steel that make up the building’s frame.
It is due to be completed early in 2014 and is the second development at the Turbine site following the completion of the £22.5m warehouse for Vantec Europe earlier this year.
Turbine Business Park is being developed by Barmston Developments, a joint venture company between Wilton Developments and Clugston Estates
James Scott, of Barmston Developments, said: “Sunderland City Council’s support of Turbine Business Park shows confidence and is a clear indication of the strength of support we have in this flagship business park.
“The Enterprise Zone offers unparalleled opportunities to occupiers. As owners of the 43 acre mixed-use site we’re keen to work very closely with interested parties to ensure we can meet specific requirements and encourage others to relocate into the area.
“Discussions with a number of interested parties are progressing well and I’m confident of further announcements shortly.”
The business centre project is being funded by Sunderland City Council with part support of more than £3.3m from the European Regional Development Programme 2007-2013.
Councillor Neil Foster is Deputy Chair of the North East ERDF Local Management Committee, which engages key partners in the overseeing of the strategic delivery of the Programme in the North East.
He said: “ERDF support has ensured that Washington Business Centre will go ahead at this strategically important ultra low-carbon Enterprise Zone. The project is a real boost to local businesses who will benefit from flexible workspaces in a supportive environment to help them thrive and grow and contribute to the local economy.”
The centre will have 24 offices and 13 workshop units to support 37 businesses, and is projected to create 155 jobs and safeguard a further 62 jobs.
Councillor Bernard Scaplehorn is chairman of the council’s Washington Area committee and has been following the project closely.
He said: “It’s good to see the centre taking shape as part of the Turbine Park development. This is more evidence that our city is a good place to do business in.”