They have acquired the £1m freehold of Pullman Court, an office building immediately adjacent to the town's new Brewery Square development, and submitted plans for a state-of-the-art auction complex. Duke's describe the project as an "out of town solution bang in the centre of town".
Duke's, established in 1823, have been looking to move from their two current salerooms (the Dorchester Fine Art Showroom on Weymouth Ave and Dorchester Grove Auctions) for some years. A number of possibilities have been considered - including a move to Melplash Court (the source of a £3.5m collection of Chinese antiques sold by the saleroom in 2010) - but the firm's partners believe the Pullman Court site offers the potential for "the ultimate provincial saleroom".
"We have been looking for new premises for more than a decade to complement our existing operations (the firm have no current plans to vacate Weymouth Ave), but we never dreamed of finding them at the heart of the new town centre," said partners Guy Schwinge and Garry Batt in a joint statement.
"For us, it represents the perfect opportunity to grow our business and provide superb premises for our clients to visit."
Pullman Court, a redundant three-storey office building situated just 50 yards from the railway station, offers over 15,000 square feet of space and has room to park 80 cars. Currently Duke's have 2500 square feet of space at Weymouth Ave.
Advised by local architects John Stark and Crickmay Partnership, Duke's have submitted plans to create a large reception area and offices, well-lit exhibition space, auction galleries, secure storage and catering facilities. Externally the building will be given a facelift to improve its dated appearance and give it a contemporary edge to chime with the Brewery Square development with its range of restaurants, bars, shops and apartments.
Duke's say the plans have won universal approval at a local level and they understand that West Dorset District Council will back the scheme that keeps one of Dorset's oldest businesses in the town where they have thrived.
"In simple terms, it is a perfect out-of-town solution, with plenty of parking and superb access, but just a few steps from a vibrant new quarter of the town," Mr Schwinge told ATG. He hopes to be operating from the building by the third quarter of this year.