Offices and restaurant planned for masonic hall

MANCHESTER’S Grade II listed Freemason’s Hall is being sold to property developers who plan to turn it into a business and conference centre with space for offices and a restaurant.

A joint venture between Ford Campbell Property Investments and Stephen Cliff’s Vision Developments has taken a 999-year lease on the building in Bridge Street.

The freemasons will retain the freehold and continue operate in refurbished rooms on the third floor. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

The developers plan to refurbish the hall to provide offices, a conference and business centre along with a restaurant and bar. A planning application for the 60,000 sq ft mixed-use scheme will be submitted later in the year with work expected to start next year.

Stephen Cliff, managing director of Vision Developments, said: “We’ve carefully considered the future modernisation of the building and we’re extremely excited to be entering into a new era in the life of this iconic property. 

“The memorial hall and ancillary rooms on the ground floor offer a fantastic opportunity for a new restaurant and bar, which will create a truly unique destination for Manchester.”

Tony Ford, founder of Ford Campbell Property Investments, said: “We areFreemasons' Hall, Manchester extremely privileged to have the opportunity of revitalising one of Manchester’s hidden gems. We’ve already had significant interest in the ground floor, as this location is a highly desirable address for leisure and business occupiers. 

“The building is on the doorstep of Spinningfields and offers unique potential for a quality business and conference centre that this part of commercial Manchester really needs. This is a fantastic opportunity not only for prospective tenants, but for the area as a whole. The development will provide highly sought- after commercial space.”

Jack Price, the freemasons’ provincial grand master, said the deal would give the organisation a home “more appropriate for modern times” and enable the hall to play a greater role in Manchester life.

The hall was designed by Percy Scott Worthington in 1929 and won the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal the following year. The entrance hall is a replica of King Solomon’s Temple with its coffered barrel vaulted ceiling supported by marble columns.

Lambert Smith Hampton and DWF acted for the freemasons while Michael Buchanan and the property team at Eversheds advised the joint venture.

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