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David Huntley

Traditional ceremony takes place at Maker and Faber buildings which will 'change face' of Sunderland

A traditional 'topping out' ceremony has taken place at two new office buildings which are set to "change the face" of Sunderland city centre.

Maker and Faber, two new offices on Riverside Sunderland, will create space for professional firms and retailers on the ground floor, with the steel frames now being fully erected. Part of Riverside Sunderland - a mixed-use urban quarter that is extending the footprint of the city centre - the buildings are new additions to the city that will attract businesses offering thousands of new jobs when they open their doors next year.

Legal & General chief executive, Sir Nigel Wilson, made his way to the top of Maker for the ceremony on Wednesday morning, alongside Sir Andrew McAlpine, Landid MD James Silver, and the chief executive of Sunderland City Council, Patrick Melia.

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Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “Topping out is a key moment in the development of any new building, but the sense of tradition and occasion today made this extra special. These are game-changing developments for Sunderland.

"As these two buildings top out we move that step closer to realising the impact they will have, not only through the physical change they bring, but through the confidence they will give to our city centre traders who will reap the benefit of thousands more people on the doorstep by day and evening.”

Sir Nigel Wilson, made his way to the top of Maker for the ceremony, alongside Sir Andrew McAlpine, James Silver, and Patrick Melia. (Creo Comms)

The buildings are part of Legal & General’s £100m commitment to the Riverside Sunderland site, alongside a further £60 million to transform the Hilthorn Park area for new economic development, delivering important infrastructure and regeneration which responds to the needs of the area, and enables long term job creation.

Sir Nigel Wilson said: “These are hugely significant developments that will not only change the face of Sunderland but will deliver a vital boost to the economy in a city that is fast becoming a poster child of urban regeneration. This is inclusive capitalism at its best. With an injection of long-term capital, towns and cities can be completely transformed, and have a direct positive social impact, creating jobs and supporting real wage increases, whilst creating a virtuous circle by generating income to pay pensioners.”

Two new build office buildings that will change the face of Sunderland have ‘topped out’ (Creo Comms)

Maker stands six storeys high, providing 80,000 sq ft of office space, and Faber at five-storeys high, will deliver 70,000 sq ft of accommodation and has already confirmed that 400 staff from RSA will move into the building in spring 2024. Maker and Faber represent the only speculative city centre office spaces in development in the north of England this year.

Maker and Faber are a key part of Riverside Sunderland, named Best Future Place at the prestigious Pineapple Awards, which will create a vibrant, mixed-use site, comprising 1,000 new homes for up to 2,500 new residents, as well as a range of new places to enjoy – including parkland both sides of the river, and ‘the UK’s best library’, Culture House - and 1m sq ft of office space. It will boost the number of people living and working in the heart of the city, creating a stronger daytime and evening economy by doubling the resident population of the city centre from 2,500 to 5,000 and increasing employment by 50% to 18,000.

The topping out ceremony took place on Wednesday (Creo Comms)

Sir Andrew McAlpine, a partner at Sir Robert McAlpine, the building and engineering company delivering the scheme, said: “These are two hugely impressive buildings, and seeing them pierce the skyline in Sunderland is a proud day for us. We’re delighted to be playing a part in transforming the city centre with a development that will create jobs and opportunities for local people and businesses. During the construction, we are keen to generate social value for the community, recruiting local workforce and supply chain partners and supporting training opportunities in the region.”

Both buildings are being marketed by commercial property agents Knight Frank and JLL with Faber already having attracted its first tenant, RSA, bringing 400 jobs to the city centre.

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