New owners to spend £100m on 19th century Cardiff building
The new owners of a historic Cardiff building plan to spend £100m on turning it into apartments, restaurants and shops.
Thackeray Group, a real estate investment company, have bought the 275,000 sq ft Grade II*-listed Howells building, which stands on St Mary Street, Wharton Street and Trinity Street near the St David’s Centre, Queen’s Arcade and The Hayes.
The store was established in Cardiff by James Howell in 1865 and the stone facade on St Mary’s street dates from that period, and the ‘James Howell & Co’ signs still remain on the building.
The building also includes 1909-designed square buildings on the corner of St Mary Street and Wharton Street. One historical oddity is the Bethany Baptist Chapel which stands in the middle of the building but was slowly swallowed and integrated into the commercial property that grew around it.
In 1972 the property was acquired by the House of Fraser group and re-branded as House of Fraser in 2010. The building is currently primarily occupied by House of Fraser, currently in 227,000 sq ft, with the Borough Arms pub occupying 2,500 sq ft over basement and ground floor fronting St Mary Street.
Thackeray Group said the building has planning consent for change of use from retail to mixed-use.
Antony Alberti CEO of Thackeray Group, said: “This is an extremely exciting acquisition for Thackeray in a city that we love and further anchors our presence in Cardiff, which we are looking to continue to invest in. It is arguably the best collection of buildings in the city and we look forward to delivering a landmark scheme for this capital city.
“Sustainability will be at the heart of our plans, and we are aiming for the regeneration to be net carbon zero.
“This is our seventh acquisition in the last 24 months and increases our holdings in Cardiff to 0.5m sq ft. We believe Cardiff is a dynamic and vibrant city with a wonderful history and is rapidly becoming one of the top cities in the UK. We want to continue to promote and improve Cardiff’s attributes and contribute to the future vision of the city.”
Thackeray said their £100 million plans also include a large central courtyard along with public realm improvements, which will be sympathetic to the original Percy Thomas-designed buildings.
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Bethany Chapel is an oddity that is best seen from the rooftops of the complex. There is a caretaker flat up there and walkways criss crossing the rooftops. It is not as fascinating as the roof of the National Museum or the Castle but is historically interesting and worth an exploration.
Urban exploration of Cardiff reveals a whole other world behind, below and above the facades.
So that will result in a lot of cash being taken out of Wales, then?