The story behind one of the most impressive apartment schemes in Hull

Investing in quality and in Hull paid off for club night organiser turned developer Jason Coleman

The Glass House apartment scheme in Hull by Iguana Developments

The connection between student club nights when Chumbawamba were Tubthumping and The Prodigy were Firestarting and one of Hull’s most impressive new apartment schemes is not obvious but it is strong. The 1990s dance yourself delirious events staged by Jason Coleman sparked a career in property investing and developing that has culminated in The Glass House, a £22m development featuring 94 apartments and penthouses in central Hull.

A natural entrepreneur, 51-year-old Jason has a trajectory worthy of a dissertation as it proves why it pays to know your market and to act swiftly on what it will want and need next.

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He grew up in Hull, studied at Heriot-Watt University and began his business career by opening a Go-Kart track. He swiftly moved on to staging student club nights across the country and also began to invest his profits into student lets in his home city.

Hull's year as City of Culture in 2017 revealed its charms to a wider audience

“I’d been a student, I was immersed in the student market and I could see that buying student houses and flats made good sense. At that time, there were no buy-to-let mortgages, I had to get a bank loan,” he says.

After 16 years working in clubs, he gave up the late nights and loud music after starting a family and began to focus on his property portfolio. He spotted a gap in the market for attractive shared houses in good areas for students who had become young professionals and launched a new brand, “Yupelet”, in 2005.

Now common in many northern cities, this kind of rental option was non-existent in Hull at the time. “I was very early with that idea. I could see there was a need for something better because the only other choice was cheap bedsits. I bought properties in the Avenues area of Hull and fitted them out with high-end fixtures and fittings, including plasma TVs. Other landlords thought I was mad but it worked,” says Jason.

“People also questioned Yupelet because they thought there weren’t many young professionals in Hull but there were and there are even more now because there are a lot of big companies in this city.”

One of the most beatutiful views in the port city

When the young professionals began dreaming of a home of their own, preferably an apartment, Jason launched Iguana Developments to fulfil the need. His first project was the conversion of a Victorian office in Hull’s Old Town into rental apartments, followed by another office conversion. His third conversion scheme, Liberty House, included flats to rent and to buy.

The Glass House is another step up. The conversion and transformation of the former East Riding police headquarters in Queens Gardens has 94 apartments, including new duplex penthouses, which have been added to the top of the old building. Prices for the high-spec. one, two, three and four bedroom homes range from £140,000 to £430,000.

“We took the old building back to a shell and with hindsight it would have been easier to demolish and start again. We have gone over budget and over time but we are really pleased with it and we have had a lot of interest from first-time buyers and also from downsizers. We have even had a couple of people buy apartments as holiday homes,” says Jason, who has backing from private finance.

Set in a park, the building is amenity rich with superfast broadband, a gym, cinema, private dining room, parking, a concierge and co-working space. Some have questioned why a young person would buy an apartment when they could get a house for the same price or less in Hull, which remains the cheapest place to buy a home in Yorkshire.

“City centre apartments are popular in Leeds and Manchester so why not?,” says Jason, who is billing The Glass House as “a city retreat with a front row seat to everything Hull has to offer.”

He is passionate about Hull’s charms, which are often underestimated by those who have not visited or witnessed the remarkable renaissance that is transforming the increasingly dynamic city.

Boosted by the success of being City of Culture 2017, Hull is also home to a lot of wealthy individuals thanks to the success of privately owned companies. Business is buoyant with big employers, including Cranswick, Siemens, Croda and Smith and Nephew and there is a growing tech industry. The Fruit Market, a new cultural, commercial and residential quarter, is as hip as Shoreditch.

“There is a real buzz and we are seeing people give up London to live and work here. The quality of life is good, it’s a cheap place to buy a home and Hull people are famously friendly,” says Jason, whose next move upwards is a show-stopping, new-build apartment scheme. He adds: “Hull is about 15 years behind Leeds and 20 behind Manchester but we are on that same journey. Hull is going places.”

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James Mitchinson