A property company recently offered up to £4.5million to jump-start plans to open a George Best-themed hotel in Belfast.
Edford Hotel Limited, the company behind the hotel proposal in Scotland’s famous Mutual building in the city centre, went into administration in 2020.
He had debts of around £12 million, of which £4.7 million was owed to a large number of “bedroom investors”, some of whom had invested their savings.
It is estimated that around 70% of the construction work had already been completed.
The Sunday Independent has learned that the Martin Property Group offered in May to pay between £4m and £4.5m to acquire the debts of Bedford Hotel Limited and fund the hotel’s completion.
However, the offer was turned down by the hotel company’s biggest creditor, and a court order last month allowed the administrators to sell the Belfast building.
Paul Martin of Martin Property Group wrote to the administrators in May with the offer.
“There are a wide range of conservation, planning and listed building complications with this project and it is certainly not a straightforward undertaking to complete the necessary work on site,” Mr Martin wrote.
“Lyell Trading Limited must be realistic about the true value of the asset if it were to be placed on the open market.
“In order for us to acquire the debt of Lyell Trading Limited and deal with the host of potential issues and the range of unforeseen/potentially wide costs that will arise, we would be prepared to offer approximately £4-4.5m. “
However, the offer was turned down and the court ruling clears the way for a sale.
Michael Lennon, managing director of Kroll, revealed that the building will be put on the open market in “the next few days”.
“The initial commercialization process is expected to begin quickly given the already high level of interest received to date. This is to ensure that all interested parties have the opportunity to fully assess the opportunity and undertake the due diligence reasonably required,” he said.
“There are already a large number of potential buyers who have expressed interest in the opportunity.”
Among those expected to bid are a group of “room investors”, who have teamed up with Lawrence Kenwright in an effort to realize his original plan to open the hotel.
Spokesman Stephen Kearney said they hoped for success.
“While we understand that legally we lost the right to the hotel units after the High Court judgment rendered our interests less important than those of the first-charge lender, we are nevertheless convinced that we should have a clear race in achieving our goal of purchasing the building to recoup our investment,” he said.
“As we have said before, the impact of the decision has been profound, with some members of our group now looking to lose their savings, but there is an opportunity here and our determination is stronger than ever to finish and opening this hotel.”