Cash-strapped Cheshire West and Chester Council decided to rent out the space in a bid to save £2.4m over the next four years.
Council staff are relocating to other buildings on a phased basis as companies move in – many will be expected to work at least part of the week from home.
Signs have gone up on the outside and above reception with the name ‘HQ Offices’.
Chester Race Company moved into HQ earlier this year, taking over 700 square metres of space on the fourth floor overlooking the racecourse. And legal firm Knights 1759, with its 65-strong team of professionals, has now relocated from nearby Cuppin Street.
The council will maintain a smaller presence in Chester at Nicholas House and Goldsmith House but it seems unlikely the headquarters function will remain in the city.
North West commercial property consultancy Legat Owen has been marketing 55,000 square feet of Chester’s iconic office building. But there was embarrassment after two giant ‘To Let’ had to be taken down from HQ because they contravened planning regulations.
Legat Owen director Will Sadler is confident HQ will prove popular with potential new occupants.
He said: “Chester HQ is an exceptional scheme and the council’s decision is timely in light of the high demand we are currently experiencing in the city centre for quality grade A office space. With City Place performing well in the area and sizeable requirements hovering, we anticipate strong interest in the eye-catching property, with enquiries already coming in.
“We have a long standing working relationship with the council and we look forward to using our local market expertise to ensure we re-let the space with high calibre occupiers.”