Liverpool hotelier puts two Belfast properties up for sale

The former Crumlin Road courthouse in Belfast
The former Crumlin Road courthouse in Belfast

Two listed Belfast buildings, earmarked for hotels by Liverpool property developer Lawrence Kenwright, have been put up for sale.

Crumlin Road courthouse and the former War Memorial Building on Waring Street have been put on the market by property agents Colliers.

It comes five months after Mr Kenwright’s company Signature Living announced the sale of two Liverpool hotels.

The Crumlin Road Courthouse has planning permission for a 71-bed hotel. Signature Living had planned to invest £25m in what it called The Lanyon Hotel. The Waring Hotel, announced as a £5m 42-bed project, acquired planning permission in March 2018.

They were part of Mr Kenwright’s plans to replicate his Liverpool business model here.

Along with the Scottish Mutual Building, they were acquired by Signature Living over 2017 and 2018.

However the developer has been unable to follow through on the plans, engaging in a public spat with Belfast City Council over Signature’s George Best Hotel.

Originally due to open in the summer of 2018, the £15m venture is unlikely to open its doors this year after delays, largely understood to be linked to planning issues.

A spokesperson for Signature Living said: "I can confirm both The Crumlin Road courthouse and Waring Street sites are on the market. Our sites in Belfast are constantly under review, as part of our continued growth strategy throughout GB."

Earlier this year, Signature confirmed that it had offered staff hired for the hotel redundancy packages or the option to relocate to the group’s other hotels in Cardiff or Liverpool.

The company also re-located a number of weddings booked this year.

In December, Mr Kenwright threatened to scale back his investment plans for Belfast after claiming that his relationship with Belfast City Council had become “a living nightmare”.

However in May, investors in the hotel group spoke out in the media, claiming they had been unable to get money from the company.

Mr Kenwright said at the time that he regretted the delays and said investors had since been paid in full.

He announced the sale of The Shankly Hotel and the Titanic-themed 30 James Street on the same day the Liverpool Echo published a story containing criticism from investors.

The developer wrote on his blog that his company had “done our job” with the hotels.

The Liverpool hotels were officially placed on the market on Tuesday at a lower price that previously indicated. Signature is seeking £35m for The Shankly and £16m for 30 James Street.

It’s unclear what the company will seek for its Belfast assets.

Crumlin Road Courthouse, which closed in 1998, was reportedly acquired by Signature in March 2017 for around £500,000. It’s not clear how much was paid for the Waring Street property, but it was previously sold to Kremlin Associates in October 2015 for £1.1m.