An extra £4 million is set to be invested in Birmingham’s Grand Hotel despite its future hanging in the balance.
Owner Hortons’ Estate is planning to invest £2.5 million to painstakingly restore more of the listed building’s façade and to crane in a new roof as part of plans to restore it to its former glory.
A further £1.5 million is being spent on refurbishing ten shops fronting Colmore Row and 10,000 sq ft of office space, which will be on the market by next spring.
The work would take the total budget on the scheme past £10 million – despite there being no deal in place for a hotel operator.
Hortons’ chief executive Tony Green said the firm had not given up hope of delivering a luxury hotel with 164 rooms and eight new suites within the city centre landmark.
However, he admitted he would eventually have to draw a line under the scheme if a method to make the hotel element financially viable could not be found.
He said: “By Christmas we hope to have the necessary consents to sort out all the offices and shops which will coincide with tenants leaving.
“We are going to create shops and offices which we think the current market wants with the shop fronts fulfilling our heritage commitment to be harmonious and in keeping with the quality of the new façade.
“We hope that by the summer of next year all of these works will be completed and the scaffolding will have gone.”
The roof work will see a steel structure craned in to replace the current timber roof which formed part of the original building, constructed in 1875.
Work will also take place on part of the building overlooking a terrace at the rear.
The intricate work includes replacing a huge amount of limestone which has degraded with new blocks. It will also see large swathes of ornate stone, stretching more than 1,500 feet around the building, painstakingly recarved. It can take masons as long as two weeks to recreate six feet of stone.
Hortons’ building surveyor James Slater said removing the roof would be a significant task.
He said: “The demolition work will be challenging. You have got to make sure that when you take a big weight off a structure that is more than 100 years old you’re very careful – you don’t quite know what is going to happen.
“Then there is the water-proofing. The only way we can do it is by water-proofing the entire fourth floor, which isn’t easy.
“From outside you might not be able to tell the difference – the slates will be taken off, dressed and put back on – but inside there will be a major difference. For a start it will be steel rather than timber.”
The entire Grand Hotel scheme will cost about £30 million but relies on a deal being struck with builders and hoteliers, which has yet to be agreed.
The Grade II*-listed building is perhaps best known for its Grosvenor Room, recently used in the filming of BBC drama Dancing On The Edge.
It stands alone as a part of the building which still retains its former beauty, but will still cost £1 million to refurbish.
Other work being considered is the reinstatement of a stone balcony which previously stood over the original entrance.
Meanwhile, tenants at all ten shops fronting Colmore Row have been given their notice ahead of the refurbishment.
Mr Green added: “We have been going back over the hotel designs again because there might be one or two things we can change and possibly more saleable space can be created. Whether or not that proves to be enough remains to be seen.
“This is a commercial venture and it is a commercial timescale, and there would be significant economic benefit.
“We don’t think there is another commercial scheme like this anywhere else in the country.”