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Issue:- 27 February 2014

Re-birth of City landmark moves forward

THE WORK to transform Liverpool's historic Royal Insurance Building into a stunning new hotel is gathering pace. Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, visited the building to see for himself the huge progress being made in rejuvenating the Grade II* listed building, which will be re-born as the Aloft Liverpool hotel later this year.

Mark Ashall, Director of Ashall Property Ltd, and site managers, joined the Mayor, to give him a tour of the building and show how each element of the £18 million project is taking shape.

The Royal Insurance Building, on the corner of Dale Street and North John Street in the City Centre, has lain derelict for over 20 years, and had been placed on the National Buildings at Risk Register.

Liverpool City Council stepped in to kick-start its redevelopment last April, purchasing the freehold of the building for £1.95 million. This resulted in £18 million of private investment in the project undertaken by Runcorn-based developer Ashall Property Ltd.

Now, the building has a bright future, with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. on-board to bring their design-led Aloft brand to the building; a high-profile first for the City.

Around 150 construction jobs are being created during the build, with over 50 full time equivalent jobs to be created once the hotel opens. The Council will get an income stream from the 125 year lease on the building, which will exceed the cost of the freehold, and which can be ploughed back into services.

Mayor Anderson said:- "I'm delighted to see such fantastic progress being made on the transformation of this building. It's an important landmark in the heart of our City, with outstanding architectural and historical value, and it's great news for the City that it will soon be shining once more.  Our deal with Ashall is another example of how we are investing to earn; targeting finance effectively to drive forward developments that deliver an economic boost for the City, create new jobs and bring in new income streams for the Council.  The rebirth of the Royal Insurance Building is great news for our City, for our economy and for our hotel sector. It was extremely interesting to see the painstaking work that is being done to restore the building to its former glory – and it's only added to my excitement over its grand re-opening."

Mark Ashall, Director at Ashall Property Ltd, said:- "The strong support the scheme has received from Mayor Anderson and Liverpool City Council has been and continues to be a key factor in its success. We're delighted with the rate at which the project continues to develop and it was important to have an opportunity to share this progress with the City Mayor."

During his visit, the Mayor was able to see the first 2 completed guest rooms and the work that has been done to restore the famous gold dome on the roof of the building. He was also able to see the on-going work to convert the loft space within the building, creating new guest rooms with stunning views across the City.

The latest figures show that Liverpool's work to bring historic buildings back into use is having a real impact. Less than four per cent of the City's buildings are now on the at risk register, compared with a national average of around 7%.

Launched in 2008, Aloft Hotels rank among TripAdvisor's 'Top 25 Trendiest Hotels in the US and around the world.' Created to shake up the traditional mid-market hotel sector, they feature urban-influenced, modern design at an affordable price.

The 116 room, Aloft Liverpool will feature the brand's signature high ceilings, oversized windows, platform beds, walk-in showers and atmospheric public spaces. It will also offer a re:chargeSM fitness centre and re:fuelSM by Aloft, a 24 hour grab and go deli-style café, in addition to five creative spaces for meetings and presentations.

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