Everything’s coming up roses for the Fragrance Group

SINGAPORE-BASED developer Fragrance Group has acquired its second hotel investment in Liverpool with the purchase of The Aloft Hotel on North John Street.

It was the first building in Britain with a steel frame supporting all its upper floors

The historic Grade II-listed building was formerly the home of The Royal Insurance Company, which began its work in Liverpool in 1845. The building in North John Street was completed in 1903, designed by local architect James Francis Doyle, who was also involved in the construction of the White Star Line offices in James Street.

Aloft Hotel Liverpool Fragrance Group Colliers
The Aloft Hotel was formerly the home of The Royal Insurance Company Image: Colliers

It was the first building in Britain with a steel frame supporting all its upper floors, and 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.

In 2013, the building had been empty for 20 years and the city council bought the freehold of the historic landmark for £1.95 million, levering in £18 million of investment from a developer and a grant of £297,500 from English Heritage. 

It opened as the Aloft Liverpool Hotel on 29 October 2014 and a year later won the Building Construction Industry's award for Building Project of the Year, beating off stiff competition from London’s Guy’s Hospital Tower and a number of high profile developments.

Aloft Hotel Liverpool has now been sold by joint agents Colliers and CBRE, on behalf of North John Street LLP, for an undisclosed price. Fragrance Group has acquired the hotel following an invitation for offers at a guide level in the region of £12m.

Municiple Buildings Liverpool Fragrance Group Russell Wbho1
Municipal Buildings on Dale Street Image: Russell WBHO

This latest purchase is the second deal in Liverpool for Fragrance Group, who are currently converting the Municipal Buildings down the road on Dale Street, another historic gem.

The Municipal Buildings was built as a monument to civic pride in the days of Queen Victoria when Liverpool was emerging as the leading seaport of the British Empire. 

The landmark Grade II listed city centre office opened in 1866; Liverpool was not even a city when the grand looking Municipal Buildings, with its imposing clock tower, was built. City status did not come until 1880.

For almost 150 years it was the nerve centre of all civic and public life, previously the seat of Liverpool Corporation - later the council - and put on the market in 2016 when it was declared “surplus to requirements.”

Russell Wbho Municipal Buildings Steel Frame Complete External View Project Management And Students
External view of the new steel structure at Municipal Buildings Image: Russell WBHO

In its next chapter, Municipal Buildings will become a luxury four star hotel for Fragrance Group. Main contractor, Russell WBHO, recently completed a milestone of the £40m refurb, with the installation of the steel frame for a new four-storey extension to the building’s rear elevation.

The new structure will house the hotel’s swimming pool, gym and spa, lift core and some of the 179 luxury guest suites.  There will also be a private drop-off entrance for VIP guests at the rear of the former council offices in Dale Street.

The extension is sandwiched between the existing building and a neighbouring multi-storey car park, making access and installation challenging. The team utilised a mobile crane to create the two four-storey towers and the connecting infill section which will hold the first-floor pool.

Fragrance Group has properties in Asia, Australia and Europe. Its portfolio in the UK includes The Imperial Hotel in Blackpool, The Townhouse in Manchester, and The Crown in Harrogate.

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