Martins Bank changes hands after 20 years

Long-term owner Castlewood Property is understood to have exchanged contracts on the sale of the former Martins Bank Building in Liverpool to Starwood Capital, for conversion into a hotel.

Bernard Byrne, chief executive of Castlewood, has owned Martins Bank on Water Street since 1996. The grade two-listed building opened in 1932, and was designed by Herbert Rowse, also the architect of the nearby India Buildings.

The building was previously occupied by Barclays, which exited in 2009, and the 40,000 sq ft banking hall has remained vacant ever since, other than some temporary uses such as exhibition space for the Liverpool Biennial in 2008. There are also smaller offices on the upper floors.

Martins Bank Building Liverpool Interior

Martins is dominated by a 40,000 sq ft banking hall which was previously occupied by Barclays

Starwood is understood to be using the block for a hotel under its PH Hotels brand.

Changing the use of the building to a 138-bedroom five-star hotel was first approved by Liverpool City Council in June 2014, but development never commenced. Further plans increasing the hotel to 227 bedrooms were submitted last year and then withdrawn.

There was a £40m development value associated with the hotel conversion.

Also on Water Street, last week Green Property announced that it had sold India Buildings to Shelborn Asset Management for £17m, and Signature Living has agreed to buy West Africa House, also for conversion into a hotel.

A spokesman for Starwood said: “Starwood is eagerly eyeing some of Europe’s key markets to expand all of its ten unique and compelling lifestyle brands, and while we are optimistic that our growth will also include the UK, at this time we do not have any further news or details to share on potential future development.”

Castlewood Property declined to comment.

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