Yorkshire tycoon sells city centre landmark

Toby Cockcroft, director of Croft Commercial,Toby Cockcroft, director of Croft Commercial,
Toby Cockcroft, director of Croft Commercial,
MULTI-MILLIONAIRE businessman Paul Sykes has sold one of the last pieces of his commercial property empire in an off-market deal to a UK investor.

Mr Sykes sold the Old Post Office in City Square Leeds, which dates back to the 19th Century, in a landmark transaction to a private hotel operator, which owns the four-star Quebecs Hotel in Leeds.

His property vehicle Highstone Estates has owned the grade two listed building since 1987 when it was Leeds’ largest post office.

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The company carried out a £6.3m refurbishment of the building in 2005 to create 23 serviced apartments, known as Residence 6, alongside a pair of restaurant units, one of which is occupied by Restaurant Bar and Grill.

The leasehold on the second unit has recently been assigned by Loch Fyne owner Greene King to Leeds-based bar group Arc Inspirations, which plans to invest £1.5m in its Banyan branded bar and restaurant on the site later this year.

Mr Sykes, who made his fortune with the sales of Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield and Internet service provider Planet Online, ploughed his profits back into property under the Highstone banner and at one time owned a string of high-profile sites in Yorkshire, Manchester and the Midlands.

He sold most of his property investments prior to the crash in 2006 and 2007 and has since been investing in banking and government markets.

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The Old Post Office is thought to be one of his last remaining commercial property assets. The deal took just under six months to complete.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Toby Cockcroft, director of Croft Commercial in York, who sold the building, said: “Highstone decided to sell because they thought it was time to liquidate some assets and there was no further need for the building.”

Croft Commercial operates alongside Croft Residential, which specialises in selling luxury properties across the north of England, as well as finding suitable new homes for clients who are looking to relocate.

Mr Croft said: “We are more known for marketing large country houses and estates, and commercial land parcels on behalf of clients, but the same principles apply to this type of off-market deal. We have a network of investors and high net worth clients globally that we can approach with unique property opportunities, and we are making a name for ourselves with these commercial deals too.”

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“The off-market sale process attracted both UK and international bids, including from the Middle East, London and the north of England, so we were really pleased to have closed the deal for Highstone.”

Jonathan Evans, director at Colliers International, who advised the buyer, added: “The new owners are pleased to have acquired this prestigious landmark property in the centre of Leeds.”

The Old Post Office was built in 1896 by Sir Henry Tanner, who was renowned for building some of the country’s grandest Victorian post office buildings, including in York and Birmingham. The building also served as the city’s telephone exchange.