Plans in for major restoration project

PLANS have been unveiled for a major restoration project that will see an historic York building transformed into one of the city’s finest residential addresses.
St Leonard’s Place is an iconic historic Grade II listed crescent, which together with the adjoining Grade II listed properties on Museum Street, were acquired by property company Rushbond Group in 2006.  The whole building was previously occupied by City of York Council, which relocated to new offices last year, though it was originally built in the 19th century as elegant houses.
Rushbond now plans to restore the building to its former glory and a planning application to convert the building into five luxurious townhouses and 29 grand apartments is expected to be submitted shortly.  In addition, a mix of six conversion and new build mews properties are planned for the rear of the main crescent.
Mark Finch, director of real estate at Rushbond, said: “When it was built in the 1830s, St Leonard’s Place was the pinnacle of fine living in York – and it can be so again.  Given the scale and stature of St Leonard’s Place, it is our ambition to bring these buildings back into life as soon as possible and our plans will see us create a stunning high-quality residential development that can exceed anything else in the region and indeed the North of England. 
“St Leonard’s Place was planned back in the early 19th century as a development that would lead the way in domestic architecture, bringing to York the elegance and style of properties only seen in parts of London at the time.  It was an ambitious plan that provided the city with a great architectural legacy.  We plan to respect those aims and create the most stunning example of city centre living in York.”
Rushbond initially planned to transform the building into a hotel, but said the complexities around this particular building made it difficult to deliver a viable proposal – despite concerted efforts all round over a number of years.
Finch said: “We need to ensure we can bring the building back into a sustainable and beneficial use and to support the exciting investments planned in this part of the city, including the restoration of the Art Gallery and the redevelopment of the Theatre Royal and Explore Library, as soon as we can.  Indeed the investment being delivered in this part of the city is happening at an impressive scale and is testament to the success of the city as a place to live, visit and experience.
“Our proposals will see the whole crescent sympathetically restored to create 40 truly magnificent homes that will elevate York into a whole new league in terms of its residential offering. A key feature of the development will be the range of properties that will be available to appeal to a national and international audience as well as local and regional buyers, enhancing York’s standing along with other great cities such as London and Edinburgh.”
Coun Alexander, leader of City of York Council, said: “This is great news. The development of St Leonard’s will mean an iconic building in York being put back into use in the way it was originally intended and after some time. I’m pleased also that the developers are keen to meet affordable housing commitments. It joins a growing list of investments and important developments in the city being progressed or completed in recent months after long periods of stagnation, such as the Bonding Warehouse, Terry’s and White Swan.”
Matthew Jones, director of leading residential agency Savills, which is advising Rushbond on the plans, said the project is a great opportunity to add to the growing status of York.

“St Leonard’s Place will provide a very unique and prestigious address and will be talked about in the same way as the Royal Crescent in Bath and Grosvenor Square are in London’s Belgravia,” he said.

“There is much interest in the city centre as a place yet the opportunities to create such a distinctive living environment are rare.  The potential to promote the city to this wider audience is really significant for the region as a whole.”

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