A DEAL has been completed to bring Liverpool’s derelict Royal Insurance building back into use as a hotel. 

The city council has bought the freehold of the historic landmark, empty for 20 years, at the corner of North John Street and Dale Street, for £1.95 million. It says it is levering in £18 million of investment from Runcorn-based developer Ashall Property Ltd. 

And Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc have announced that they will be bringing their design-led Aloft brand to the building, which is Grade II* listed and on the national ‘At Risk’ register.

Royal Insurance BuildingRoyal Insurance BuildingMayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “The Royal Insurance building is an important landmark in the heart of our city, with outstanding architectural and historical value. It has lain derelict for too long and we are determined to bring it back into meaningful use. 

“Our deal with Ashall and our success in signing-up Aloft gives us a fantastic opportunity to breathe new life into the building. It’s a great example of how we are working with the private sector to attract new investment, preserve our heritage and reduce the number of buildings at risk in our city, while boosting our hotel offer.” 

The 116-room, 4-star hotel, will says the council, feature the brand’s signature high ceilings and oversized windows, of which there are many in the North John Street building. 

It's long unoccupancyhas led to it being placed on the National Buildings at Risk Register. Ashall Property Ltd says it aims to start building work on the gold-domed building in early May, completing work in late 2014.

Aloft - LobbyAloft, and what they doIt estimates that 150 construction jobs will be created during the build, with over 50 full time equivalent jobs created once the hotel opens. 

The conversion has been designed by Liverpool architect Falconer Chester Hall. Balfour Beatty is the main contractor. English Heritage are supporting the scheme with a grant of £297,500. 

Mark Ashall, of Ashall Property Ltd, said: “FCH has designed a scheme which complements and preserves the great heritage of this property and Ashall Property is both excited and proud to have the opportunity to regenerate an iconic building and provide Liverpool with a vibrant, design-led hotel complete with restaurant and meeting space. 

Royal-Insurance-Building Liverpool2A room with a view

Roeland Vos, President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East, said: “Together with North John Street Op Co Ltd and Ashall Property, we are delighted to debut our first Starwood hotel in Liverpool. We see great opportunities to grow our Aloft portfolio in markets such as the UK where there is a strong demand for affordable yet stylish, cutting-edge hotel brands.” 

The council says only four per cent of the city’s buildings are now on the at risk register, compared to around seven per cent nationally.

Buidings and contents

Royal-Insurance-Building Liverpool1
 •  The Royal Insurance Company began its work in Liverpool in 1845 and erected purpose-built offices in North John Street in 1849. 

•  The present building was completed in 1903, following a decision taken in 1895 to build a much larger headquarters due to the rapidly expanding business in the city.

•  It was designed by local architect James Francis Doyle, who was also involved in the construction of the White Star Line offices in James Street, also falling to bits.

Royal-Insurance-Building Liverpool
•  It was the first building in Britain with a steel frame supporting all its upper floors.

•  The Royal Insurance Building features Portland stone and granite, a dramatic square tower and gold dome cupola above the entrance. It was granted Grade II* status by the Secretary of State in 1995.

•  The building is constructed over five floors, totalling a gross internal floor area of approximately 53,000 sq ft.