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Nambarrie Tea building bought for £2.5m by hotelier

Belfast’s famous Nambarrie Tea building has been acquired by a hotel firm in a deal worth £2.55m.

The industrial building in Waring Street in the city’s Cathedral Quarter is thought to have attracted interest from at least four hotel companies before the successful bid – which was above the £2.2m asking price.

The building spent just four months on the market before its latest sale.

Selling agents Lambert Smith Hampton would not reveal any details of the transaction. However, director and head of agency Stuart Draffin said: “The old Nambarrie Tea warehouse on Waring Street attracted a strong level of interest from multiple parties for a wide range of potential end uses.”

Marketing it, LSH had said it could be used as a “hostel, luxury apartments, student accommodation, boutique hotel, office refurbishment or leisure facilities”.

It was being sold by Village Homes, a Co Down company who are thought to have earned double what they paid for the building in 2011.

Village Homes, part of the Fraser family’s network of property companies, bought the building seven years ago for £1.2m.

They had previously won planning permission to demolish the building and build 56 apartments in its place but in a 2013 letter to council planners, the Cathedral Quarter Trust, which represents hospitality businesses in the area, objected to the apartment plans.

The trust described the building as “an important part of the Cathedral Quarter’s social and economic history”.

“The proposed building is not in sympathy with the character of the area in terms of materials, form and scale and would harm the setting of the listed buildings, particularly the Merchant Hotel,” the letter said.

Nambarrie used its location on York Street, Belfast to import tea from India and Africa until the 1941 blitz destroyed the premises, leaving only one horse-drawn delivery cart.

This is the latest prospective new hotel for the Cathedral Quarter after Liverpool property developer Lawrence Kenwright unveiled his plans for the Waring Hotel in the old War Memorial Building- not far from the Nambarrie Tea building.