Former Liverpool department store put up for sale by owners

George Henry Lee building

A department store in the heart of Liverpool which has been left empty for more than a year has been put up for sale by its owners.

The former George Henry Lee store near Williamson Square has been put up for sale by Legal and General (L&G), who own the freehold for the building.

Development company Niboco has applied for planning permission to turn the building into a 157-bedroom hotel, restaurant, casino, nightclub and events space.

Niboco, which is run by Niki Bolza, has drawn up a planning application for the building.

The building was occupied by John Lewis – who move to Liverpool One in 2008.

The building became empty in 2017 when the tenants Rapid Discount Outlet went into administration.

Mr Bolza said the hotel on Basnett Street would create 200 jobs.

He said: “Our view from the start is that it’s entirely reasonable to convert that beautiful building into a hotel, which would become one of the best hotels in Liverpool.

“It’s a gorgeous building with massive potential. To use it as a hotel is ideal – it couldn’t be more suited to that. Retail, particularly on the upper floors of the building – is just not viable.

“I don’t need to tell you how important it is to provide more hotel rooms for Liverpool – high quality hotel rooms in particular.”

He said the new hotel would be in the four star bracket.

He said: “This is exactly what Liverpool needs. There are lots of three star hotels but not an awful lot of high-quality ones, so this is a no-brainer.

“It’s going to have a knock on effect and will be so good for Williamson Square and the city. The area needs this development.”

A spokeswoman from L&G said: “The sale of this property is the conclusion of a wider asset management strategy that the fund put in place at the beginning of the year.

“Acting in the best interests of our pension fund investors, L&G has a fiduciary responsibility to take a best practice approach to the sale of this property – marketing it transparently, fairly and widely on the open market, using experienced agents.

“The property has been on the market for over a week and we will of course update you on the outcome of this process as soon as possible.”

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