Wolverhampton's Beatties building should become hotel, says councillor
The new owners of Wolverhampton’s historic Beatties building should turn the landmark into a luxury hotel, a leading city councillor has said.
The building on Victoria Street, first opened by James Beattie in 1877, was sold this week for £3 million to private investors who are yet to be named.
The premises is currently home to House of Fraser, which is set to relocate to the site occupied by Debenhams in the Mander Centre.
It is believed property agents Allsop have been in talks with council bosses about possible plans to transform the building into a mixture of flats and retail outlets.
However Councillor Paul Birch said the developers would be "missing a trick" if they didn’t consider converting the Victorian landmark into a premier city centre hotel.
“My family have shopped at Beatties for years, and we were in there just last week,” he said.
“The store is a shadow of its former self, but developers should consider demand, and had they done their research, they would have found Wolverhampton needs city centre four-star hotels over apartments.
“As much as we want to see the building restored and to encourage inner-city living, the developers are missing a trick in not converting this iconic building into a four-star hotel. Its central location would give rise to a much-needed conference centre, health club, bar and restaurants.
“I’ve been saying this for years. We’ve only got two decent hotels – the Ramada and the Mount – and neither of these are in the city centre.
“I can imagine that iconic entrance revolving to the superstar artists who will be performing once again at the city’s Civic Hall when it reopens,” he added.
It was revealed this week that council bosses have been in talks with hotel chains the Marriott and the Hilton in a bid to bring one of them to the city.
The city council has been monitoring any future development of the Beatties building closely and is keen to ensure the site is not left empty for a prolonged period of time.
House of Fraser moved into the department store in 2005 before the building was taken into receivership and put up for sale last summer at a knock-down price.
The University of Wolverhampton had initially expressed an interest in taking over the premises before an expected deal fell through at the last minute.
Councillor Harman Banger, the council’s Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “We understand the sale has now been completed and we look forward to working with the new owner to deliver a viable, vibrant and timely scheme for this iconic site as part of a re-imagined city centre, benefiting from a billion pounds-worth of investment.”