Lord Shaftesbury's historic former property on the market for £800k
A historic home once saved from the demolition bulldozers could yet be razed to the ground as it goes on sale for £800,000.
Edenmore, on the edge of Whiteabbey village, the historic former seat of Lord Shaftesbury, has been put on the market in a sale expected to attract significant interest.
In 2011, planning approval was granted for the demolition of the period residence but instead, it was turned into a care home for the elderly, Edenmore Nursing Home, which closed last July.
The Shore Road site currently has planning permission for a 60-bed nursing home but as the building is not listed, it could be demolished for residential use.
It is also understood that the property may be sold off in two separate lots.
Edenmore prominently features in the cluster of 'big houses' in Co Antrim and when news of its possible demolition emerged a few years ago there was a public outcry among those living in the area.
The property, built in the 1880s for James Torrens, a land agent for the Donegall and Shaftesbury estates, the latter which owns Lough Neagh, is a substantial two storey Victorian building.
In a statement last summer it was confirmed Edenmore was "no longer a suitable environment in which to provide nursing care to modern standards and to meet the increased levels of dependency and complex needs of people who are supported to move into care homes".
Commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton are dealing with the sale of the estate.
Surveyor, Andrew Fraser, said: "Edenmore has a wonderful history and offers a fantastic development opportunity for a new nursing home operator.
"We are expecting significant interest in the property."
The property lies adjacent to the Jordanstown campus of Ulster University with much of the area characterised by low density private residential housing.
Retaining historic features such as high ceilings, detailed cornices and grand staircases, the Italianate building based on 16th century Italian Renaissance architecture, contains 70 bedrooms, communal rooms, a lift and has 30 parking spaces at the front and side of the property.
It was a family home for almost 80 years, and was owned by James Torrens' son Thomas who served as High Sheriff of Co Antrim and Deputy Lieutenant for Belfast.
Following Torrens' death in 1928, Edenmore became a veterinary hospital for the USPCA and vestiges of its time specialising in cats and dogs remained for a long time, with an animal's graveyard complete with tiny headstones.
It was later adapted as RAF Edenmore, a base for No.67 NI Reserve Group and No.3502 (Ulster) Fighter Control Group.
In 1963, Edenmore became a hotel, with its principal function rooms named Eden, Torrens and Shaftesbury in homage to its heritage.
Later, it was sold to the Sandown Group who turned it into a nursing home which closed last July.
The decision "reluctantly" to shut down the home came amid concerns that the aged building was not fit for purpose.