Iconic former Martins Bank headquarters sold to workspace provider

Martins Bank building in Water Street

London-based hybrid workspace provider Kinrise has acquired the former Martins Bank headquarters in Liverpool for an undisclosed sum.

It is the firm’s first property in the city.

Purchased off-market directly from the seller the 210,000 sq ft building joins Kinrise’s existing portfolio of buildings in Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.

Fronting onto Water Street, the main thoroughfare leading to the River Mersey, the imposing Portland stone building is one of the UK’s most impressive examples of ‘Interwar Classical’ architecture and occupies an entire square block formed of banking halls and offices above.

Originally designed in 1927 as the headquarters for Liverpool’s Martins Bank by Herbert J. Rowse, the Grade II-listed site was later bought by Barclays in 1965, operating as the flagship Liverpool branch until 2009.

During the Second World War much of the Bank of England’s gold reserves were secretly stored in its vaults.

In April, 2018, it was reported that French group Foncière des Régions was to acquire the building, as part of a £750m deal with private equity firm Starwood Capital for a portfolio of 14 four- and five-star hotels operating under the Principal Hotels Company brand.

The building will now undergo a significant, yet sensitive, refurbishment, retaining the original features and showcasing its character while accommodating state-of-the-art technological upgrades to create modern, flexible workspaces designed for companies large and small.

Kinrise said it will be able to accommodate a solo entrepreneur taking a desk for a day, up to a global company taking a 25-year lease on a full floor of top specification space.

The signature Kinrise, design-led refurbishment will soon begin throughout this landmark building, the company said.

Alongside the transformation of private office space, the team will also be creating a welcoming ground floor area in the former banking hall open to the public and space for Kinrise’s cultural programmes, as well as future local community events and exhibitions.

Sam Lawson Johnston, Kinrise co-founder, said: “The acquisition of the Martins Bank Building marks a significant milestone for Kinrise as we expand into our fourth city.

“Liverpool is a richly diverse and vibrant city and we have been looking for a site here for a number of years. Martins Bank Building meets all the specific requirements we look for in a building – central location, abundance of character, great natural light and volume of space – it is the perfect addition to our growing portfolio.”

He added: “The property is our largest site to date and we are looking forward to injecting a new lease of life into the building and sharing it with the local community and businesses.”

Founded in 2015 by Sam Lawson Johnston, George Aberdeen and Harry Lawson Johnston, Kinrise said it creates inspiring work and cultural spaces that enable individuals and companies to thrive.

While each Kinrise project has its own unique identity, every building is developed within the parameters of four filters – human, social, environmental and financial. Martins Bank Building joins fully operational spaces 34 Boar Lane in Leeds, Canada House and the Albert Estate in Manchester and recently acquired Citadel in Birmingham which will complete early next year.

The real estate business has plans to expand into other high growth work and cultural hubs including Bristol, Brighton and London.