JV to spearhead regeneration of historic Birmingham hotel

A historic Birmingham hotel where Indian independence campaigner Mahatmah Gandhi is believed to have once dined, has been acquired by a joint venture.

MP DevCo, a joint venture between Regal Property Group and Trigram Properties, has purchased Victorian-built Murdoch Chambers & Pitman Building in Corporation Street. The grade-II listed building has been acquired from Birmingham City Council, with £4.5m received as a bridging loan from The Harrogate Group. 

The building started life in the late 1800s as a vegetarian restaurant and hotel, thought to be the first in Britain, but now stands empty, apart from two fast food outlets on the ground floor.

Developer MP DevCo has consent to transform it into a four-star ‘aparthotel’ offering 136 apartments, as well as the restoration of the existing grade II-listed façade and an 11-storey extension at the rear of the building. 

Mark Holbeche, of Regal Property Group, said: “Corporation Street was historically one of Birmingham’s most prestigious streets. It is home to several Victorian buildings, including the Victoria Law Courts and the Methodist Central Hall, with the latter also to be repurposed as a hotel.

“Our scheme will help to regenerate this historic area of the city as well as delivering much-needed new hotel beds.”

As part of its brownfield regeneration programme, the WMCA Board agreed in principle to make an investment to kick-start the aparthotel scheme, which is expected to create more than 70 jobs.

The board’s decision triggered detailed negotiations between the WMCA and the developers to finalise an investment deal.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “Murdoch & Pitman is an iconic city centre building with a glorious history. This scheme will breathe new life into the building and the area, helping to safeguard a valued part of our local heritage.

“It is also yet another example of how the WMCA is putting its funding to good use to help drive forward a successful economic recovery from Covid-19 by transforming brownfield sites into new homes and communities, creating vital jobs in the process.”

The Murdoch Chambers & Pitman Building was originally built in 1896 by J Crouch and E Butler for Dean’s Furniture and the Pitman’s restaurant, which is thought to have been named after Sir Isaac Pitman, then vice-president of the Vegetarian Society and creator of Pitman’s shorthand.

The building features carvings depicting its early uses, showing diners at the Pitman Vegetarian Restaurant and workers at Dean’s Furniture offices. Pitman’s restaurant had expanded into a hotel by 1898 and was still open when Gandhi visited the city in the 1930s. Later uses of the buildings included offices and barristers’ chambers.

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