Christie + Co, the agent representing Britannia Hotels on the sale of London Road Fire Station in Manchester, is fielding interest from across Europe, America and the Middle East, with 'everything still to play for' in terms of finding a buyer.
On Friday it was announced that the grade two-listed building next to Piccadilly Station had been put on the market as a hotel development opportunity with 'substantial freehold offers' sought. London Road Fire Station has been the subject of controversy in Manchester for a number of years due to the property falling into a state of disrepair.
Speaking to Place North West, Jon Patrick, Christie + Co's head of leisure and development, said that the agency was conducting a "completely open process" on the sale of the fire station.
He said: "We have the brief to sell the fire station on behalf of Britannia, and we're fully mandated to do that. The process is happening in collaboration with the council – the council want to see it developed and refurbished to a high quality, but ultimately we are acting for Britannia and the sale is their decision.
"There is everything to play for; price is important, but also deliverability and who has the right track record.
"Site visits are underway already, and we're arranging a series of site days for interested parties. We've received interest from the local regional market, as well as from Europe, America, and Middle and Far East."
Alex Langsam's company Britannia has owned the London Road Fire Station for 27 years. Britannia was granted planning permission to convert the fire station into a 227-bed hotel in 2010. Manchester City Council has twice proposed the use of compulsory purchase powers to acquire the site in 2011 and at the end of 2014 after Britannia failed to bring a development forward.
According to a senior Manchester hotel agent, Langham is understood to be looking for a high price for the property; the additional significant cost of conversion means that a potential buyer would need a level of funding associated with Far East hoteliers such as Jumeirah or Shangri-La who might be interested in a trophy buy.
Designed in an Edwardian Baroque style by Woodhouse, Willoughby and Langham in red brick and terracotta, London Road Fire Station was completed in 1906, operating for some 80 years in a variety of civil guises prior to its closure and subsequent sale in 1986.
The property was given a grade 2-listed status in 1974 and placed on the English Heritage at Risk Register in 1998.