Belfast Telegraph

Hotel firm buys Belfast's Nambarrie Tea building for £2.5m

Hotel buyer: Nambarrie Tea building
Hotel buyer: Nambarrie Tea building
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A hotelier has snapped up a famous industrial building in Belfast in a deal worth £2.55m, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The Nambarrie Tea building in Waring Street in the Cathedral Quarter is believed to have attracted interest from at least four hotel companies before the successful bid - which was above the £2.2m asking price.

It was being sold by Co Down company Village Homes, now thought to have earned double what it paid for the building seven years ago.

The building spent just four months on the market before its latest sale.

It marks the latest prospective new hotel for the Cathedral Quarter after Liverpool property developer Lawrence Kenwright unveiled his plans for the Waring Hotel in the old War Memorial Building - not far from the Nambarrie Tea building.

Selling agents Lambert Smith Hampton would not reveal any details of the transaction. But director and head of agency Stuart Draffin said: "The old Nambarrie Tea warehouse on Waring Street attracted a strong level of interest from multiple parties for a wide range of potential end uses."

Marketing it, LSH had said it could be used as a "hostel, luxury apartments, student accommodation, boutique hotel, office refurbishment or leisure facilities".

Village Homes, part of the Fraser family's network of property companies, is believed to have paid £1.2m for the property in 2011, when it had been on the market for three years. It won planning permission to demolish the building and build 56 apartments in its place.

But in a 2013 letter to council planners, the Cathedral Quarter Trust, which represents hospitality businesses in the area, objected to the apartment plans.

The trust described the building as "an important part of the Cathedral Quarter's social and economic history".

"The proposed building is not in sympathy with the character of the area in terms of materials, form and scale and would harm the setting of the listed buildings, particularly the Merchant Hotel," the letter said.

Originally Pratt and Montgomery, Nambarrie used its location on York Street, Belfast to import tea from India and Africa until the 1941 blitz destroyed the premises, leaving only one horse-drawn delivery cart.

The sale of the Nambarrie building is the second major property investment transaction in recent weeks, despite fears of a slowdown in the market.

The Belfast Telegraph this month revealed that Belfast Harbour had bought Obel 68, a seven-storey office building, for £15m.

Belfast Telegraph