A joint venture partnership between Ford Campbell Property Investments LLP and Vision Developments has exchanged contracts on Manchester's Freemasons' Hall in Bridge Street.
The developers have plans to develop the art-deco building to create mixed-used commercial space and leisure facilities.
The deal will see the Freemasons retain the freehold ownership of the building and the partnership will be granted a 999 year lease.
The Freemasons will remain within part of the building having sole occupation of the third floor which will be refurbished to create lodge rooms and accommodation for Masonic use.
The rest of the building will be fully refurbished to provide offices, a conference and business centre that will provide all modern business requirements – including a restaurant and bar in the grandeur of a listed building.
The partnership and the Freemasons will now work on a combined scheme that will be submitted for planning later this year and property agents are shortly to be appointed to secure the right anchor occupier.
Work on the scheme is scheduled to commence in April 2012 and until then the building will remain fully functional and open for business.
Tony Ford, founder of Ford Campbell Property Investments, said: "We are extremely privileged to have the opportunity of revitalising one of Manchester's hidden gems. We've already had significant interest in the ground floor, as this location is a highly desirable address for leisure and business occupiers.
"The building is on the doorstep of Spinningfields and offers unique potential for a quality business and conference centre that this part of commercial Manchester really needs. This is a fantastic opportunity not only for prospective tenants, but for the area as a whole. The development will provide highly sought- after commercial space."
As well as the purchase of the hall, the partnership has agreed to acquire the adjacent vacant land. A planning application for a 60,000 sq ft office led mixed use scheme will be submitted later this year.
Freemasons' Hall was designed by Percy Scott Worthington in 1929 and won the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal the following year. The entrance hall of the Grade II-listed building is a replica of King Solomon's Temple with its huge coffered barrel vaulted ceiling supported on elegant marble columns.
Lambert Smith Hampton and DWF acted for the Freemasons.
Michael Buchanan and the property team at Eversheds advised the partnership.