The controversial London Road Fire Station site in Manchester is finally to be developed as a hotel with the announcement that the Zetter Group has been chosen as the operator.
Allied London bought the property in November 2015 after previous owner Britannia Hotels dragged its heels for 29 years, despite continued promises to create a 227-bedroom hotel on the site. The company immediately announced that it would develop the Grade-II Edwardian Baroque-style building as a mixed-use space with a hotel, restaurant, bar, event space, spa and visitor attraction.
Now the intention is that the Zetter Group will create what is described as the "first truly international boutique hotel" for Manchester. The hotel, which is expected to have no more than 100 bedrooms, will became the fourth property for the Zetter Group, which has three hotels in London. Following the opening of the 59-bedroom Zetter hotel in Clerkenwell, the group has gone on to open two Zetter Townhouse properties in Clerkenwell (13 bedrooms) and Marylebone (24 bedrooms).
The group also operates the Grain Store restaurant in London's King's Cross with chef-patron Bruno Loubet.
Interiors of the Manchester hotel will be designed by Russell Sage, who was responsible for the two Zetter Townhouse hotels as well as for creating the Royal Suite at the Goring Hotel.
Michael Benyan, director of the Zetter Group, said that the company is "delighted" to have found the perfect opportunity to open a Zetter property in Manchester.
"London Road is an iconic building and a real gift for us as hoteliers. We want to preserve the existing beauty and magic of the building and use it to help create a unique experience for our guests.
Michael Ingall, chief executive of Allied London, said that the company had received widespread interest from hotel operators to be involved in the site.
"Ultimately, however, we were taken by the hands on approach of the Zetter owners, which we felt was vital in establishing London Road as the new benchmark for hospitality in Manchester.
"We are following the considered approach we have taken with our other projects, including Spinningfields, by working with owner/operators who have a religious approach to service, quality and brand. Zetter come in the top bracket of this group of people.
"I have no doubt that the Zetter Hotel will become a must-stay destination for Manchester's many visitors. Our task is now to craft and curate the rest of the development and we will be inviting certain hospitality operators to make proposals for the remaining spaces."
Allied London will submit a planning application for the hotel in autumn 2016.
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