Work starts on landmark Leeds city centre hotel scheme

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Work is officially under way on a stylish new Leeds hotel that will form part of the city’s flourishing ‘arena quarter’.

A ground-breaking ceremony took place yesterday at the Portland Crescent site that will be home to the Hilton Leeds Arena hotel.

The event was held just hours after the First Direct Arena scored a major coup with the announcement of a show by guitar legend Eric Clapton.

Clapton’s concert on Sunday, June 22, will be one of only two British dates on his new tour.

Ian De-Whytell, boss of city-based Crash Records and a vocal champion of the arena scheme, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s great to see another member of rock music’s aristocracy making a long overdue visit to Leeds.

“It’s a huge coup for the arena and shows what a massive impact the venue has made.

“You can already see the positive benefit it has had on that part of the city centre.”

The £34m hotel will boast around 200 bedrooms across 14 floors. Stand-out features include what bosses say will be a “signature” sky-bar offering stunning views of the Leeds City Council-backed arena.

The hotel will be owned by Wakefield-based developer GB Group but run under the Hilton brand by management specialists Redefine BDL.

Nearly £5m of funding for the scheme has been provided by the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a collection of councils and business leaders working to create jobs for the area. It is estimated that the hotel will add about £43m to the value of the city region’s economy by 2026.

Up to 370 short-term jobs will be created during construction, along with more than 100 long-term posts following autumn 2015’s opening. Guests at yesterday’s ground-breaking ceremony included GB Group executive chairman Martin Smout, Leeds City Region LEP chairman Roger Marsh and Hilton Worldwide’s Nick Smart.

Mr Smout said: “We are extremely proud of the fact that this is the only new upscale hotel development north of the M25 in the last five years.

“This scheme in the up-and-coming entertainment quarter of the city will provide many short-term and some longer-term jobs once the hotel is open.”

One of the city council’s main reasons for developing the £60m arena was the hope that it would breathe new life into its surrounding area.

Previously-announced projects for the arena quarter include a 10-storey serviced apartment block on Merrion Way and a revamp of the Merrion shopping centre.

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