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Investors hope to relaunch former Signature Living Exchange hotel

19 August 2020 by

Investors in Cardiff's former Signature Living Exchange hotel are hoping to reopen the property in the next month or two and save as many jobs as possible.

Philip Ingman, speaking on behalf of the investors who make up Coal Exchange Hotel, the company that owns the long leasehold of half of the former Coal Exchange building, said the plan is to agree terms with the other owners, get as much of the hotel open again as soon as possible, and then finish construction.

The 200-bedroom property was leased back to a company, owned by Signature Living, that also owned the freehold. The hotel opened in 2017 but fell into administration in May. The administrators then resigned earlier this month as funding for the hotel's holding costs were withdrawn and the company is expected to go into receivership.

Ingman said with more than 100 investors from around the world involved in the ownership of the other half of the building, it was "immensely complicated", but he hopes the groups will be able to arrange a deal to buy the freehold of the property from the official receiver and "put it all back together again".

Although most of the public areas are complete, including the restaurant, bars and function rooms, only 50-60 of the property's total 200 bedrooms have been finished, with an estimated £8m required to complete construction, and so the plan is to reopen the building in stages.

"There's quite a lot to still be done. We've inherited an unfinished hotel," said Ingman, speaking to The Caterer.

"The council are very much behind getting this finished and other local businesses also getting involved. The building holds quite a lot of local pride because it's obviously quite a famous building, and they'd like to see it finished and successful, so we have constant dialogue with the local authority. The number of people involved means it's a slow process but we're getting there."

Former local councillor Ashley Govier has set up Eden Grove Properties to take on the staff and running of the hotel on a short-term management agreement to get it open again.

Signature Living is no longer involved in the hotel or the 30 James Street hotel in Liverpool, which has reopened under Legacy Hotels' management.

Signature Living's George Best hotel in Belfast, which was due to open this summer, also fell into administration separately earlier this year, as did Signature Shankly, the property subsidiary of Signature Living's Shankly hotel.

The group is understood to still own the Signature Living aparthotel, the Arthouse hotel and the Alma de Cuba bar-restaurant all in Liverpool, with multiple properties under construction.

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