PLANS for a boutique hotel in Newcastle city centre appear to have collapsed after the company which owned the 200-year-old building went into administration and the new owners lodged plans to convert it into flats.
The run-down, Grade II-listed, Friar House in Clavering Place was bought for £700,000 by a newly formed venture S2 Hotels in 2008, and it unveiled ambitious plans to turn it into a luxury hotel.
A £1.25m refurbishment programme was scheduled and work began in 2009 after S2 secured planning consent, but little progress was made and the company went into administration last year with debts of £1.4m.
Manchester-based administrators CLB Coopers has subsequently sold the business for a sum believed to be less than £500,000.
And the new owners have now submitted plans for it to be converted into 15 flats.
Chris Pearson, a partner at Newcastle property agents Gavin Black & Partners, who advised the purchaser, said: “The building has listed building consent for conversion to form a 10-bedroom hotel with ancillary bar and restaurant.
“At just over 8,500 sq ft over four floors the building could offer other opportunities such as residential or office space subject to planning.
“In such a strong location that has been the focus of significant land assembly by developers, this is a good opportunity for a range of occupiers.
“This is the next city centre quarter ready for transformation in the short to medium term.
Being so close to the centre in a location that has already seen impressive and successful residential and office development and so close to important transport hubs such as the Central Station, the potential is clear.”
S2 Hotels was a joint venture between Olufemi Michael Simeon and Tracy Snell.
Snell, a former joint owner of Wallsend-based Future Strategies Consulting Limited, was owed £750,000 by S2 when it went into administration. Manchester-based finance company Harpmanor was owed over £500,000, the administrators’ report states.
Friar House borders the Stephenson Quarter, close to the city’s Central Station. Work is expected to start on a 250-bed Crowne Plaza hotel, 40,000sq ft of Grade A offices and a 320-space multi-storey car park in the Stephenson Quarter this year.
Work is already well under way in nearby Westgate Road on a new Sleeperz hotel.
S2 had earmarked Friar House as a Saints Hotel to open last year.
There was to be a walled front garden for al fresco dining with a bistro, wine bar and tearoom on the ground floor, with 10 suites on the top two floors.
Friar House was built in the 1790s. By the early 19th Century it was owned by Sir Robert Hopper Williamson, who, as Recorder of Newcastle, was one of the city’s most important men.
However, with the advent of the railway, it ceased to be a home and became a wholesale and export manufacturing stationers, Robinson & Co, in the 1840s through to the 1960s.