HERE’s a deal.
There must be a certain attraction for someone to have the address of 1 Camp Street, Manchester
Do up this Grade II building on Byrom Street opposite St John’s Gardens and it’s yours rent free for seven years.
When they say ‘do up’ you are actually talking full scale restoration. It is currently braced with scaffolding, the roof will need replacing and who knows what internal horrors have developed since it was last occupied three years ago.
It is owned by ECP Holdings, parent company of Euro Car Parks which holds a bank of property across the UK as well as car parks and this was their Manchester base for 25 years. While they are happy to develop sites and are currently looking at projects in Manchester and Salford this is a different beast and quite honestly they don’t know what to do with it.
Director Les Knight admits: “We moved our base to London three years ago and have kept the building safe and secure but don’t want to start restoration without an end user and that’s the difficult bit.
“The building has 4,000sq ft of space over three floors, another 1,000 if you add in the basement, but it’s a very cellular with domestic room sizes and most small to medium sized firms want 20,000sq ft of open plan space.
“That’s why we thought we would offer it to the market for a long rent free period allowing the incoming tenant to instead invest in the structure and create something that suits them. There is quite a lot of work to do, the top floor needs taking down and the roof replacing but it is not beyond repair. We got a quote for the work which came in at £400,000, £500,000 if you include the basement.
“It is a lovely building in a great location and ready to be developed. We will probably review the position later this year and if no-one has come forward will see whether it is worth us putting our hands in our pocket and doing the work ourselves.”
The building has an interesting history. It was probably in place by 1794 on land owned by the prominent Byrom family. The doors are delightful, Gothick in style with a 'k' at the end meaning the fanciful Gothick of the early Romantic movement, think Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, think of the poets, Byron, Shelley and Keats (click here for Best of Manchester Doorways).
This property was originally three separate houses, two entrances on Byrom Street and the third round the corner, early on it became the Convent of St Mary and a small chapel now sits tucked into what was the rear yard of two of the houses.
When the nuns moved out it had various uses over the decades, some more colourful than others, including being the Conservative Party Headquarters in Manchester – hence the flag pole.
Les said: “We tracked the Order down to Prestwich as the Chapel still retains some of the original stained glass and when the building is developed we want to make sure the glass is preserved.”
While the current permission is for offices and the rent free/restoration deal is on the table ECP would also be happy to sell “for the right price” and surely even Manchester City Council would waive its “No offices to Resi” rule to see the building brought back to its original use as town houses.
Indeed it would be wonderful to see the entire St John Street area turned back to residential with the consultants and the lawyers and the like relocated to some discreet purpose built consulting rooms building somewhere.
Byrom Street would not be a simple fix. While there are three separate entrances from the street, internally the space is interconnected and there is only a single staircase remaining to serve the first floor. Apart from the roof you would also have to tackle the basement.
There is also the added complication of the Listing which means the Chapel would most likely have to stay which in turn compromises any private outside space. Their present state given their importance to the streetscene here and their rarity in Manchester is a crying shame and adds to the cost.
But still these properties are potentially glorious and they are right opposite St John’s Park. There must be a certain attraction for someone to have the address of 1 Camp Street, Manchester.
Les said: “We would be happy to sell the building for around £500,000. It would be great if someone like Gary Neville came along and converted it to a boutique hotel or back into town houses. We are open to suggestions really.”
You can make your pitch here: firstname.lastname@example.org