A Washington property developer is hoping his latest project will mark the beginning of an extensive North East portfolio.
Chris Irwin, is aiming to turn part of a derelict building in Washington into affordable one-bedroom flats.
Chris, who has worked for the likes of Scottish & Newcastle and Coca Cola in commercial roles, bought Glendale House in Washington, near to the Galleries shopping centre.
The entrepreneur paid £60,000 at auction for the smaller of four units on the site, which was previously owned by investment firm CNC Properties, before it went into administration.
Guernsey-based CNC Properties had paid £5m for the entire quadrant in 2005. Since then it has become a target for vandalism.
In partnership with social housing provider Coast & Country Housing Limited, Chris is renovating the property, which formerly housed a contact centre belonging to Yellow Pages, turning it into 29, one-bedroomed apartments.
Part of the £800,000 needed to transform the derelict building will come from Coast & Country’s drawing down of Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) funding.
Coast & Country undertake the conversion and then manage the property for five years, after which time the ownership of Glendale House will revert to Chris as the landlord.
Chris said: “It’s great to be able to revive what has been an eyesore for so long, and regenerate part of Washington. In investment terms, for what was a fairly modest outlay, it should work out well.”
Chris hopes the project will be finished in February 2015. Throughout the build Coast & Country will operate their “Forging Futures” scheme - which will provide training and apprenticeship opportunities to jobseekers, before offering them first refusal on the finished apartments.
Now Chris, who helped to arrange the acquisition of the Head of Steam group by Camerons Brewery in 2013, is looking at other sites in Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough which could convert into a further 200 apartment units.
Chris added: “I spent most of my career working in the leisure industry, so I’ve accumulated a lot of contacts in the licensed industry. That industry has gone through huge changes in recent years, and now a lot of people have been left with underused, distressed or empty properties, for which they need to find another use.
“The other sites I’m looking at include former working men’s clubs, pubs and office blocks. Some of the old pub stock is scrap value.”