York city living moves to the east as gentrification takes hold

Stonebow House, York, redevloped from a 1960s Brutalist building
Stonebow House, York, redevloped from a 1960s Brutalist building
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York has a new city centre hotspot that’s attracting hipsters and high-end buyers from all over the country and beyond. Sharon Dale reports.

The Stonebow House development, just off Fossgate in York, isn’t ready for occupation until spring next year but there’s no shortage of interest in the 17 properties that will sit above the gym, shops, cafes and restaurants on the lower floor of this landmark building.

There are four penthouses among the 17 apartments at Stonebow House.

There are four penthouses among the 17 apartments at Stonebow House.

The clamour to view the apartments, which go on sale on October 16, reveals another turning point in the area’s popularity. Estate agents report that well-heeled buyers have spotted the potential of the city centre’s eastern gateway, which is benefiting from substantial investment.

The homes at Stonebow House start at £295,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and £350,000 for a two-bed. The four duplex penthouses, which boast three bedrooms each, are £895,000 and all the flats have parking and panoramic views over the medieval city.

It’s a marked transformation for the 1960s Brutalist structure, which was widely regarded as an eyesore and was once described as “sheer visual misery” by an architecture critic. Wetherby-based developer Oakgate spotted the opportunity to give it a modern makeover when a long lease came up for grabs via the joint LPA receivers of former owners Brightsea SARL. Richard France, managing director of Oakgate, describes Stonebow House as “the missing part in the redevelopment jigsaw for this part of York.”

The regeneration and ensuing gentrification of a previously run-down fringe includes the contemporary glass Hiscox Insurance building, the conversion of the former tax office into apartments and the construction of the 120-bed Moxy Hotel. The nearby Hungate development by LendLease is set to deliver over 1,000 homes and more retail space.

A penthouse at Stonebow House with a view of the Minster

A penthouse at Stonebow House with a view of the Minster

The area around Fossgate, once considered a poor relation to prime property hotspots, such as The Mount, is fast becoming fashionable. It’s a stone’s throw from The Shambles and a 15-minute walk from the train station. Anne Haggas, head of the northern new homes department at Carter Jonas, which is marketing Stonebow House jointly with Hunters Exclusive, says: “We’ve had interest from all over the country and beyond, including California. The apartments are in a true city centre location, which is a big draw, and I think the views from the apartments will be a huge selling point. They are tremendous.”

York-based estate agency Blenkin and Co. has branded the Fossgate and St Saviourgate area “the new smart end of town”. Edward Hartshorne, a director of Blenkin and Co., who used to live on Fossgate, says: “Five years ago, Fossgate was a very different place to live. It was an edgy street where cheap takeaways, seedy clubs and down and outs led to unwanted noise, commotion and street fights in the early hours. Since then the area has seen rapid gentrification with an upsurge in smart independent businesses opening their doors. There are new bars, restaurants, cafes, delicatessens and some really attractive destination shops. I think it’s has become the de facto place to drink a really good cup of coffee and dine out, particularly if you’re in your 20s and 30s.”

New-builds and conversions have also made Fossgate and area around it a burgeoning residential district. Blenkin & Co has watched the hotspot emerge while tracking the fortunes of Georgian houses on St Saviourgate..

“Some 25 years ago, number 24 Saviourgate was a modest town house in a scruffy part of the city centre, but in the last 15 years it has benefited from incremental improvements under the guidance of different owners. A complete makeover in the last decade entirely justified a price tag of £1.65m. St Saviourgate is now the smartest street in York,” says Edward, who is now marketing Number 22 for £1.5 million.

The owners bought it eight years ago when it was a dentist practice with living accommodation above. They have since renovated and extended the property, while retaining and reinstating period features. It is now one of the finest houses within the city walls and comes with five bedrooms, a garden, double garage and residents’ parking, along with views of York Minster.

This latest hotspot and the prices it now commands is confirmation that York’s position as Yorkshire’s most sought-after city remains unchallenged. While Leeds is the commercial capital, York holds greater appeal for home buyers, thanks to its schools, transport links and its easy access to coast and countryside.

It’s still the first choice for many of those relocating from London and the south east as it takes less than two hours to get to King’s Cross by train. Choice is limited due to a shortage of properties for sale and this is helping to drive up prices, which according to the latest Land Registry House Price Index have risen by 6.7 per cent over the year to July 2017..

*22 St Saviourgate is £1.5m, Blenkin & Co., tel: 01904 671 672, www.blenkinandco.com

22 St Saviourgate has a large garden

22 St Saviourgate has a large garden

* Stonebow House is staging a strictly by appointment preview event on October 14 and 15. To arrange appointments, contact Carter Jonas, tel: 01904 558200, www.carterjonas.co.uk or Hunters, tel: 01904 621026, www.hunters.com or visit www.stonebowyork.co.uk. There are 17 properties starting at £295,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and £350,000 for a two bedroom. There are four duplex penthouses at £895,000 each. All properties come with balconies and parking. The one and two-bedroom flats have one parking space and the penthouses have two. There is also visitor parking and an electric car charging point. www.stonebowyork.co.uk