Legal & General Checks Out of Liverpool

Location: Williams Square, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK

Name: Unnamed

No. of Keys: 157

The Property: Legal & General is selling hotel development site in Liverpool. But its development partner Niboco, led by Count Niki Bolza, is keen to proceed with the conversion, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Niboco has plans to create a 157 room luxury hotel currently lodged with city planners.

The old George Henry Lee store off Williamson Square has been empty since Rapid Discount Outlet shut in 2017

Plans to turn a former Liverpool shopping icon into a luxury hotel and casino could be under threat after a row between a developer and the building’s investment fund owner.

They also have the backing of Liverpool City Mayor Joe Anderson , who said he was “excited” about the plans.

But it’s recently emerged that Legal and General (L&G), who own the freehold for the building, have put it up for sale, and a row has erupted between the developers and the financial services firm.

Mr Bolza says the price is too high, while officials from L&G say the sale is the conclusion of a wider asset management strategy, and the firm is acting “in the best interests of pension fund investors”.

He added: “Our view from the start is that it’s entirely reasonable to convert that beautiful building into a hotel, which would become one of the best hotels in Liverpool.

“It’s a gorgeous building with massive potential. To use it as a hotel is ideal – it couldn’t be more suited to that. Retail, particularly on the upper floors of the building – is just not viable.”

He described the current scenario as “really messy”, adding that the project has been “hemorrhaging money”.

But he told the ECHO: “It’s cost millions, but it’s our hard work, initiative and our investment so I am going to fight tooth and nail.

He said: “This is exactly what Liverpool needs. There are lots of 3* hotels but not an awful lot of high-quality ones, so this is a no-brainer.

“Acting in the best interests of our pension fund investors, L&G has a fiduciary responsibility to take a best practice approach to the sale of this property – marketing it transparently, fairly and widely on the open market, using experienced agents.

L&G recently decided to sell a hotel development site with consent, in Glasgow.

The history of the building…George Henry Lee opened his first shop in Basnett Street in 1853 and the business eventually grew into one of the north’s top department stores, with a striking building to match.

It was bought by John Lewis in 1940, and in the 1960s, the existing store was merged with the Bon Marche store next door, which faced onto Church Street.

In 2002, the old George Henry Lee name was dropped and the store became John Lewis.

Competition: Liverpool has been a hot-spot for new hotels and serviced apartment projects, but this isn’t the first “new” hotel to be put on the market.

Main Photo: The original George Henry Lee department store

Tenure: Freehold

Brand/Management: Flag-free

Current Owner: Legal & General

Guide Price: TBA

Date Posted: June 2019

THPT Comment: Interested parties should contact THPT and we will report back on the current status, once we have spoken to LGIM – Legal & General.

First Seen: Liverpool Echo

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This is a new feature on the THPT site…. Hotel & Serviced Apartment owners can be naturally reticent in publicising their property is for sale…for confidentiality reasons, for staff and current client reasons, so the properties featured in this section will either be “generic” or “name specific”


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