THE Derry-based Martin Property Group has confirmed plans to develop a new ‘high-end boutique hotel’ in the centre of Belfast after acquiring the Scottish Mutual Building.
The listed building was placed on the market over the summer by the administrators appointed to the collapsed George Best Hotel project.
Ten bids were received by Kroll, but the Martin Property Group (MPG) were confirmed as the winning bidders on Thursday.
The family-owned Derry company said it is planning “significant investment in the restoration, preservation and enhancement of the building’s original features and the creation of a world class hotel”.
The value of the purchase has not been disclosed, but a report recently filed by the administrators revealed none of the ten bids for the asset matched the £7.2 million owed to the failed hotel’s chief lender.
It means the dozens of people who bought into Liverpool developer Lawrence Kenwright’s Signature Living hotel project will almost certainly lose their money.
Administrators Matthew Ingram and Michael Lennon originally found £12.2m was owed to Bedford Hotel Ltd’s unsecured creditors, including £4.76m owed to the ‘bedroom investors’.
Paul Martin said the group was “immensely proud” to become the custodians of what he called one of the most historically and architecturally important buildings in Belfast.
“As well as restoring and preserving its wealth of original features, we will be adding a new luxury hotel to the city, in a move which reflects our confidence in Belfast’s ability to attract both business and leisure tourists,” he said.
MPG has emerged as one of the north’s most active real estate investment companies.
The group recently bought the Danesfort building in Stranmillis, where it is investing £15m in its refurbishment. It also owns Ross’s Court, the former home of Argos in Belfast; Marlborough House on Victoria Street and the Richmond Shopping Centre in Derry
MPG also acquired a massive portfolio of retail and student accommodation space in Britain over the summer.
“We look forward to engaging with key stakeholders in the project, including Belfast City Council and the Historic Environment Division, amongst others, who can share and shape our vision for this impressive building,” continued Mr Martin.
“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to preserve and enhance such an important landmark in the city and enrich Belfast’s built heritage for future generations.”