A prime location on The Downs – currently the site of Nick’s Lounge – has been acquired by Hale-based innovative crowdfunding platform The House Crowd.
We asked founder Frazer Fearnhead for the lowdown on the plans.
ALTRINCHAM TODAY: So Frazer, can you firstly tell us a bit more about The House Crowd’s model?
FRAZER FEARNHEAD: We offer investors the ability to earn attractive, consistent returns by lending money to property developers to fund the construction of housing projects. All monies are secured against the developer’s property by a registered legal charge, so if they do not repay we are able to step in and complete and sell the property to recover investors’ money.
In essence, it removes a large part of the risk usually associated with investing in property development as there is no bank borrowing. Investors are in fact acting as ‘the bank’ but, rather than the bank using the money you deposit with them, to lend to developers, you can now do so directly through our platform and earn a much higher interest rate – typically 10% p.a.
AT: You’ve recently completed the purchase of two sites around The Downs in Altrincham town centre – what plans do you have for them?
FF: We will be building eight townhouses, 31 apartments and converting part of Nick’s Bar into an office. The town houses will be built on the live/work concept that has become popular in London so that, if desired, the purchasers can use the ground level as a shop, office or design studio.
AT: Many people will be very familiar with this part of town as the former site of The Downs pub – what was it that particularly appealed about this scheme?
FF: The Downs is a highly desirable location. It’s close in proximity to Market House and Goose Green as well as walking distance to Hale village, making it the ideal location for those who want to live, work and play in Altrincham and have everything on their doorstep.
AT: Altrincham does seem to be leading the way not only on the high street but also as an attractive place for town centre residential schemes – why do you think that is?
FF: It’s really become the blueprint for other town centres to emulate and it all started from the wonderful Market House concept. The idea of giving space to small independent retailers and artisan food stalls really captured the zeitgeist and the desire of the public for a higher quality, unique experience rather than the bland ubiquitous retail and restaurant chains that have dominated the British high street over the past decade.
It has proved immensely popular, increasing visitor numbers to the town centre, thus allowing other businesses to flourish and help attract even greater numbers. It’s been fantastic to see how the regeneration has rippled out from the market over the past few years with thriving new businesses.
AT: What are the next steps in terms of this project and when can people expect it to be completed?
FF: Part of the site is still subject to planning approval. Negotiations with the council have been going on for many months and we believe all matters have been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. A decision is expected early December. The underground car park and foundations have already been completed and we will be starting construction of the buildings in January. The project will be in several different blocks and we expect to be able to release the first one in Spring 2020.
For more information about The House Crowd, visit thehousecrowd.com or call 0161 667 4264.