After more than a decade at Connect Derby's Friar Gate Studios, the building’s first ever tenant has said his final farewells as he moves to his own purpose-designed premises on Queen Street.
Justin Smith Architects moved into the managed workspace scheme for the creative industries on Ford Street in March 2007 and was the first business to take space at the building following its completion by Bondholder Derby City Council.
In the intervening decade, both Justin’s business and Friar Gate Studios have gone from strength to strength. Justin has expanded within the building several times and now employs a team of 10 skilled professionals, who carry out a broad range of work - from small refurbishments to large office buildings and residential properties.
Justin has now relocated to new 4,000 ft2 premises on Queen Street in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter. The building has been the subject of a redevelopment programme over the past six months. Set over four floors, it now features a retail reception, design studios, consultation spaces, meeting rooms, a café, and a gym.
The relocation comes at a time of significant growth for the business, which is also set to operate a new venture, the Design Advice Centre, from its new premises.
Speaking of the move and the help and support he has received from Ann Bhatti and her team over the past 10 years, Justin said:
“After spending five years working from home I decided the time was right to get offices that would allow me to expand the business. This proved difficult as most of the premises on the market at the time had long tie-ins, or weren’t big enough to accommodate the type of work we do.
“Then Friar Gate Studios opened and was perfect for me. On my first day, there was just Ann Bhatti and me in the building - since then I’ve seen Friar Gate Studios expand and the launch of Connect Derby, which has attracted some of Derby’s most exciting businesses.
“The help and support that the Connect Derby team, particularly Ann, have given me over the last 10 years has been invaluable and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. It will be sad to leave, but I know this is an important step in the development of Justin Smith Architects.”
Ann Bhatti, Connect Derby business manager, is sad to see the business move on, but is delighted to see Justin move to the next level:
“It is with a mixture of a heavy heart and immense pride that we are saying goodbye to Justin and his team as they see leave for pastures new.
“They’ve been fantastic tenants over the past 10 years and are a great example of what a company can achieve with the right infrastructure and the range of business support and mentoring that is available through Connect Derby."