What next for Martins Bank Building project?

Originally due for completion in 2024, work on the transformation of Grade II-listed Martins Bank Building in Liverpool is yet to properly start and a joint venture partner has walked away – so what happens next? Tony McDonough reports

Martins Bank Building
Martins Bank Building in Water Street in Liverpool. Picture by Tony McDonough


Uncertainty now surrounds the timetable of the huge project to transform the Grade II-listed Martins Bank Building in Liverpool into a hub for small businesses.

Originally due for completion in late 2024, apart from some preliminary work, the project proper has yet to start, with one of the original joint venture partners, Kinrise, now out of the picture.

Located in Water Street, Martins Bank has been empty since 2009. How long before it is brought back to life?

In 2021 the building was acquired by Karrev, a London-based property investor with a French connection, with developer Kinrise as its junior partner on the project. 

Shortly afterwards an ambitious plan was revealed to revive the 210,000 sq ft building and its elegant ground floor banking hall that was last occupied by Barclays Bank.

Martins Bank played a vital strategic role during World War II when its vaults were used to store the bulk of England’s gold reserves, 280 tonnes, as part of Operation Fish.

Although the junior of the joint venture partners, Kinrise became the front for the venture and embarked on an extensive PR campaign to promote the scheme.

Originally due for completion in 2024, the developer revealed the site would be home to community-focused spaces, hospitality outlets and 95,000 sq ft of office space, offering floorplates of up to 17,500 sq ft.

Kinrise also said it was seeking a high-profile restaurant partner to occupy the banking hall. It even released a video showing a performer roller-skating through its corridors to showcase the building which was designed by famous architect Herbert J Rowse.

However, last week it was revealed that Kinrise is no longer involved in the project and holds no stake in the building.

Speaking to LBN in the last few days, Kinrise co-founder Sam Lawson Johnston, said: “We are no longer involved in the scheme. Karrev is the majority joint venture partner on the project and we haven’t been involved for a little bit.

“We got it through design and planning and Karrev is taking it forward as a scheme. We love the scheme and we think it will be great and we are sure that Karrev will make a great success of it. They are taking it forward and we are focusing on other things.”


Martins Bank Building
Martins Bank Building  has been empty since 2009. Picture by Tony McDonough
How Martins Bank Bank Building is meant to look after its refurbishment


Media outlet Place North West reported that Karrev was shortly to put out a tender to find a contractor to take on the work. However, Karrev itself has yet to comment. The company apparently has no website nor listed telephone number.

On the Martins Bank website the contact for the business is listed as Cecile Champy. According to her Linked in profile Ms Champy is the founder of investment management venture ValinvestRE. It exclusively advises Karrev, which is a €150m property fund.

She was listed on Companies House as a director of Karrev (Martins) Limited, a vehicle set up to deliver the Martins Bank scheme. However, she resigned on February 6.

Other directors include Julien Buronfosse, based in Lyon in France, according to Linked In, and Marie de Kermabon, who also according to Linked In, is based in Reims in France.

In the last few days LBN has emailed Ms Champy twice asking for comment on the progress on Martins Bank but we have not yet received a reply.

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