City councillors give go-ahead for plans to convert the former George Henry Lee department store in Liverpool into a £25m hotel. Tony McDonough reports
City planners have given the green light to plans to convert the former George Henry Lee department store in Liverpool city centre into a 175-bed Accor hotel.
In August Dubai-based developer Landlab revealed the £25m project for 20-48 Basnett Street. Expected to open in 2025, the hotel will be operated by French hospitality company Accor under its Mama Shelter brand.
The outlet was originally known as George Henry Lee, named after the original owner who opened a shop in Liverpool in 1853. It became one of the north of England’s top department stores.
John Lewis bought the business in 1940 and in the 1960s merged it with the Bon Marche store next door. However, the George Henry Lee name continued to adorn the building until it was dropped in 2002.
Following the departure of John Lewis the Bon Marche outlet become TX Maxx. Another well known Liverpool retailer, Rapid Hardware moved into the building but the business collapsed in 2013. It reopened as Rapid Discount Outlet but closed for good in 2017.
Various schemes have been put forward for the building including abandoned plans for a hotel. Poundland currently occupies the ground floor of the building but is due to vacate shortly.
As part of the scheme the 153,000 sq ft space will be transformed into 175 rooms as well as a sports bar concept, Spa Mama Skin, karaoke rooms, 10-pin bowling, a Cinemama, co-working space and rooftop bar and restaurant.
Speaking in August Vic Alfa, UK director of Landlab, said: “As a Liverpudlian, I’m incredibly proud and excited to be bringing Mama Shelter to my hometown. Having worked with Accor for the best part of 10 years, Mamas is a brand our team knows well.
“With its colour, vibrancy, and off-the-wall approach, it will inject life and energy back into one of the city’s most iconic buildings and offer something completely new to the people of Liverpool and visitors to this amazing city.”
Started in 2008 in Paris as a concept developed by Serge Trigano and his two sons, Jérémie and Benjamin. Mama Shelter is known for its “playful” approach to hospitality, featuring karaoke rooms, in-house cinemas and DJ sets.