Robinson deal seen as ‘a sign of confidence’ in south Bristol

A major investor has bought up a large slice of one of Bristol’s most iconic and best-known industrial buildings.

The Robinson Building in Bedminster has attracted the interest of a major new investor thanks to its location and reputation.

The deal is being seen as a major seal of approval for the Bedminster area which has become one of the most popular suburbs of the city with investors and property owners.

Dozens of apartments in the building and in an adjacent redeveloped property in a former church have been sold by local property developer Urbis to the social housing group Sovereign.

The former paper bag factory and printing works, which was built in 1870, dominates the skyline of west Bedminster’s conservation area.

The site was bought by Urbis in 2007 and redevelopment was completed in 2010.

The sixth and seventh floor of the former factory are a completely new construction of seven spectacular duplex apartments and twelve one- and two-bed apartments, with private balconies and views stretching out across the city.

An original stone frieze, which was rescued from the Robinson headquarters in Redcliff Street, has been given pride of place in the building’s atrium. The 50ft-long carved frieze represents the building’s unique history, showing the daily life of the original factory workers.

The flats in the building will fetch from £155,000 for a one–bedroom apartment, while two-bedroom options start at £205,000.

The latest deal – estimated at around £6 million and covering more than 40 apartments in total, including 12 in the neighbouring East Street Church redevelopment by Urbis – marks the end of an important chapter for the developer.

Funds freed up by the deal are now expected to be reinvested elsewhere in the property business.

Justyn McIlhinney, property partner at Bristol law firm Temple Bright, worked on the deal for Urbis, having also acted for them on the original purchase of the building back in 2007.

He said: “It’s nice to close the circle on this project with Urbis more than five years on.”

“This is a good deal to get away in today’s market and a sign of confidence about this part of Bedminster – and the Robinson Building itself – as a solid residential investment. It’s also excellent news for Urbis, who can move on to other projects, and for the buyer, Sovereign, which has added a really prestigious address to its portfolio of managed properties.”

McIlhinney revealed his firm is also working on several other seven-figure property deals locally in the healthcare and industrial sectors.

Richard Clarke, managing director at Urbis Development, said he was delighted with the deal.

He added: “We stuck our necks out developing the Robinson Building through a sticky few years for the economy, but the opportunity was too good to pass up.

“I think the quality of the finished building speaks for itself, and this sale to Sovereign bears that out.”

This article appeared in the Bristol Evening Post on 13 March 2013.