Nestling in the corner of Eastside City Park sits a complex of buildings that is a microcosm of the development of Birmingham’s industrial heritage, including one of the more significant Georgian buildings in the City Centre. Most recently used as Christopher Wray’s Lighting Factory and Emporium, the buildings between Bartholomew Row and Fox Street represent a fascinating, and largely unknown, piece of history. They aren’t pretty – they aren’t habitable – they aren’t completely safe. However Czero Developments is trying to save them.
Saving Bartholomew Row is a complex project. The ‘Conservation Deficit’ which is the difference between what the buildings would cost to repair and what they are worth when repaired is around £2.5m. In other words you could spend £2.5m restoring a set of buildings which then still aren’t worth anything, and such a project would only be possible with substantial grant. The whole site is listed, the configuration of the buildings makes reuse extremely difficult, and the passage of time is causing further deterioration.
Another way of rescuing the buildings is to create a development that adds sufficient value to be able to subsidise the restoration. The creation of Eastside City Park, the arrival of Birmingham City University in Eastside, and the long term delivery of HS2, puts Bartholomew Row in a place that makes a development proposal viable. This is the plan. Saving Bartholomew Row is possible.