Business

Derry developer to incorporate office building into new Belfast hotel development

The former Scottish Mutual Building in Belfast, which was acquired by the Martin Group for £5.5m in December 2022.
The former Scottish Mutual Building in Belfast, which was acquired by the Martin Group for £5.5m in December 2022. The former Scottish Mutual Building in Belfast, which was acquired by the Martin Group for £5.5m in December 2022.

THE new owner of the former Scottish Mutual Building in Belfast city centre has confirmed its hotel plans will incorporate a six-storey office building next to the former George Best Hotel site.

The Martin Property Group (MPG) bought ‘The Warehouse’ office building on James Street South in April 2023, just four months after it paid £5.5 million to buy the former Scottish Mutual Building on Donegall Square South.

The Derry developer outbid nine other rivals to secure the listed building in late 2022, previously earmarked as the ill-fated George Best Hotel, and immediately announced its own plans to develop a new ‘high-end boutique hotel’.

The family-owned business said it would commit “significant investment in the restoration, preservation and enhancement of the building’s original features and the creation of a world class hotel”.

MPG has now informed Belfast City Council that its plans will include both the Scottish Mutual Building and 7 James Street South, with the intention to convert the buildings into a hotel, comprising of public bars, restaurants, function spaces and hotel bedrooms.

MPG’s Paul Martin said: “Plans to develop the Scottish Mutual Building are underway and we’re keen to get started.

Read more:

  • Martin Property Group reveal plans to develop Belfast office building into 120 apartments
  • Former George Best Hotel was sold for £5.5 million, new documents show
  • Derry-based Martin group announce 'high-end hotel' plans after buying Scottish Mutual Building in Belfast

“We hope to be in a position to provide further updates later in the year in terms of design, layout and concept.

“This is an exciting time for Belfast and the Northern Irish tourism industry as we look ahead to big events such as The Open tournament, and Belfast’s Year of Culture in 2024 – and to the longer term future of Belfast as one of the world’s leading city destinations.”

MPG’s recent Belfast acquisitions include 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.

Originally acquired by Liverpool developer Lawrence Kenwright in 2017, the listed Scottish Mutual Building was announced as the first Belfast hotel in the Signature Living group portfolio.

The project was hit by delays and planning issues, with administrators from Kroll called in by lender Lyell Trading in April 2020 over a debt of around £7.2m.

It was eventually placed on the market after a lengthy legal battle involving a group of individuals who were among those who invested just under £5m in the original George Best Hotel venture.