Qatari investors buy Bow Street Court sold for £75m
A prime London building sold by one of Ireland's foremost developers for £25m in 2010 has been acquired by Qatari investors BTC UK for £75m. Galway developer Gerry Barrett's company Edward Holdings was obliged by Nama to sell the historic Bow Street Magistrates' Court in Covent Garden in the depths of the global financial crisis to pay down his companies' debts to the Republic's so-called bad bank.
Barrett then sold the 19th century listed former court building to Austrian hoteliers Rudolf and Christian Ploberger after acquiring it himself four years earlier for a sum believed to have been in the region of £17m.
BTC UK's total acquisition and development costs are expected to amount to approximately £125m.
The Grade II-listed Bow Street building had served as the location for some high-profile trials, with defendants including Irish playwright Oscar Wilde and the infamous East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
Bow Street had at one point in its long history also accommodated London's first professional police force, the renowned Bow Street Runners.
The 90,000 sq ft court facility, which is located in the heart of one of London's foremost retail and leisure districts, was granted planning permission in 2013 for conversion into a 100-bedroom hotel and museum.
BTC UK managing director Mehdi Ghalaie said it was an "iconic part of London's heritage", and he claimed that it would now be brought back into public use.
He said: "After many years under different owners, our focus is now on delivering a world-class boutique hotel that befits this historic building.
"We will be engaging with English Heritage, Westminster City Council and the Metropolitan Police in our planning process to maintain the building's illustrious legal heritage and history and to ensure that the traditions and spirit of Bow Street are preserved.
"The acquisition further enhances our expanding hospitality credentials in the UK."