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City of York Council may buy Stonebow House
A YORK office block widely viewed as an eyesore could be bought by council chiefs and redeveloped.
City of York Council is looking to buy the remaining freehold of Stonebow House under regeneration plans due to be announced today.
If the purchase goes ahead, the council could look at redeveloping all or part of the site, and leader Coun James Alexander says all options are being considered.
Stonebow House was built 50 years ago next year but is unpopular and seen by many as a blot on York’s skyline.
The council is also likely to confirm today that the former Reynard’s Garage building in Piccadilly will become a hotel. A shortlist of four bidders for the council-owned site has been compiled, and all four include a hotel in their proposals.
A preferred bidder will be confirmed once all offers are evaluated further in January. It means plans by property firm Northminster Ltd and the Yorkshire Air Museum to turn the site into housing and a tourist attraction celebrating its use as the home of 1930s aircraft manufacturer Airspeed Ltd appear to have been scuppered.
A report to go before the council cabinet on January 7 also recommends selling three other council-owned sites: the former Manor School, land next to the A59 and Outer Ring Road roundabout, and the old Clementhorpe Maltings on Lower Darnborough Street.
It said the proceeds will allow the council to move its own projects forward, with the Manor School sale helping the progression of the 1,000-home British Sugar development. The council is also looking to buy a section of land next to Yearsley Swimming Pool.
City leaders will be asked to delegate the approval of a preferred bidder for the Reynard's site to Coun Dafydd Williams, the council's cabinet member for finance, performance and customer services, and to Ian Floyd, director of customer and business support services. The nine bids received were scored according to various criteria.
Coun Alexander said: "There is a long list of previously blocked brownfield developments now seeing progress, including the White Swan Hotel, Hungate, York Central, Castle Piccadilly, Terry’s and the Bonding Warehouse.
"We’re now down to four final bidders for the old Reynard’s Garage site, all of which are proposing a hotel with additional facilities. These sites will deliver much-needed homes and employment for York and the fact we can move forward with them shows a renewed confidence in the city’s economy.”
A review of the council’s property portfolio was agreed in November 2012. Coun Williams said the council needed to progress opportunities where it could significantly increase the value of its properties by acquiring surrounding land, particularly where it tied in with key council priorities.
The cabinet report said the nine bids made for the Reynard's site included a range of uses. It said amounts offered "vastly" differed, but all four shortlisted bids offered "a substantial capital receipt".
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