Words from Signature Living Chairman, Lawrence Kenwright
Having once reigned as the hub of Cardiff’s prosperous coal industry, the Exchange was severely damaged and upon my initial visit, we were unable to enter the building due to safety concerns.I was advised that the restoration of the Exchange would cost £42 million and upon completion, it would be valued at £35 million, an initial loss of £7. But restoring the Exchange wasn’t about the money, it was about bringing an iconic building back to life.
We were only granted planning permission two months before we first opened our doors which ensured the pressure was high. With a team of highly skilled individuals, we unearthed 1,300 tonnes of debris which had built up over the course of many years and discovered some amazing original architecture. Throughout the whole process, one of my biggest goals was to keep the building’s true DNA and footprint intact albeit with a different use.
The rear of the building was particularly neglected with excess water damage ensuring the wooden joints of the building were disintegrated and disengaged from the main structure.
We have further taken extra care to ensure that none of the original walls are pulled down and despite initial concerns & reports, the back wall is still completely intact.
Phase one of The Exchange Hotel opened its doors in April 2017 with 30 rooms, by June there were 60 rooms and by September 2017 there will be 90 completed rooms. There is still a lot of work to be done with further dereliction hiding behind the scenes but I am confident and hopeful The Exchange Hotel will be fully operation by January 2018.