Thursday 26 April 2018

McGrath Group opens its second hotel in UK

The McGrath Group plans a large development at this site in Rostock in Germany
The McGrath Group plans a large development at this site in Rostock in Germany

Donal Buckley

Maynooth-based McGrath Group has developed its second hotel in Britain and this one, in Bristol's city centre, was opened within the last week by the city's Lord Mayor.

The McGrath Group engaged in a pre-let deal before completing the €27 million project which required the conversion of a former 1960's office block formerly known as York House.

Trading under the Hampton by Hilton brand, the186 bedroom Bristol hotel is managed by Focus Hotels Management Ltd and is located on the corner of Bond Street and York Street.

McGrath's previous hotel development was the Britannia Hotel in Brighton which it also owns and it is operated by Britannia Student Services. A McGrath spokesperson said the group is actively looking at sites with potential for hotel opportunities in both the UK and Ireland.

It also recently applied for planning permission for a 24 storey high rise apartment block consisting of 190 apartments in Barking, East London, and is awaiting planning approval for a major mixed use development in Rostock in Germany.

Director Mary McGrath said: "The opening of the new Bristol hotel follows an increase in demand for quality rooms in Bristol as the city attracts more business and tourism. We developed in Bristol as it is the second biggest financial district after London. It has very low levels of unemployment and the government has spent a lot of money on infrastructure in the area."

The hotel is also expected to benefit from a planned 12,000 seater Bristol City arena which is expected to open near the Temple Meads railway station in 2017.

One of the brands of the Hilton Worldwide group, the Hampton by Hilton brand operates in more than 2,000 hotels around the world.

The McGrath family, brothers PJ and Tom and sister Mary, has also undertaken other UK projects including the refurbishment of Mitre House, Brighton, where Sainsburys is its anchor tenant and where it sold off 62 one and two bedroom apartments at prices ranging from £300,000 to £730,000, or €405,000 to €987,000 (based on recent currency conversion rates).

It is hoping to get planning approval in the near future for a €100 million new quarter in Rostock, Germany extending to 45,000 sq m (484,376 sq ft).

This mixed use development will have a retail focus on its larger west side, and a hotel and residential focus on its east side, facing Neuer Markt, the city's main square.

Known as Rosengarten Center Rostock, it will be located in the main shopping district of the port city which is the largest city in the north German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Designed to enhance and strengthen Rostock's inner-city shopping and cultural district, the new shopping quarter will have a mix of large format retail stores and several smaller stores - with rentable areas ranging from 50 sq m to 5,000 sq m accommodating a mix of fashion, leisure and sports outlets. All stores will have street frontage thus facilitating occupiers to minimise operational costs.

Plans show that the hotel will have 135 bedrooms and to complement these, an apartment hotel with 132 serviced furnished apartments will a;so be included in the development. In addition, the upper floors will accommodate a fitness centre, offices and medical practices.

Meanwhile in Ireland the group recently got planning permission for a development consisting of 14 new apartments and the refurbishment of an existing house on another Dun Laoghaire site.

One of its most recent Irish developments was The Crofton, a complex with 25 high end apartments with sea views over Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dublin Bay.

Founded in the early 1980's, the group initially developed residential properties for the Irish rental market and later expanded into large investment and development projects. It established and sold some substantial property investment companies along with award winning residential projects. It has been especially successful in developing or refurbishing properties in central urban areas of Dublin, southern England and Germany.

In 1997 it completed and sold the award winning Clifden Court development on Dublin's North Quays consisting of 10,000 sq ft of retail space, 187 apartments and 102 underground parking spaces.

Looking back Ms McGrath says: "In 2012 it became clear that there was significant value in the Irish development market so we reignited our Irish development arm."

So at a time when very few developers constructed apartments in Ireland, it undertook two Dublin apartment projects which sold out. These comprised the former Auburn Lodge in Killiney, Co. Dublin, a then uncompleted complex of 31 apartments which it completed and sold, as well as The Crofton which was created by the refurbishment of a former office block.

Before the crash, during the mid-1990's, it expanded into the UK setting up both investment and development companies.

"In the early 2000's we became concerned about the Irish market and decided to stop speculative development just building out our existing Irish portfolio. At the same time we continued to expand in the UK and diversified into mainland Europe, in particular Germany," she added.

Its German portfolio includes two properties in Berlin, one of which has five office units in Oranienburger Chaussee 62, about 16kms north-west of the city centre and the other is a seven storey mixed use residential and commercial property at Gartenstrasse in the "Mitte Von Berlin" which is the central sub-district of Berlin.

The group also has properties in Grimma in the state of Leipzig and Zwickau in the state of Saxony.

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