A city centre building that was gutted in an arson attack has been featured on a popular TV programme.
Host Martel Maxwell visited the former martial arts centre in April 2018, when the property went to auction with a guide price of £100,000.
However, at the auction Nirad Solanki, chief executive of NS and PK Developments Limited, bought it for £132,000 – despite never having viewed the property.
Nirad had planned to demolish the building and turn it into a ten storey apartment block with shops on the ground floor within nine months.
But the development turned into a ‘nightmare’ when the building was targeted by arsonists in July last year.
Thankfully no one was injured as a result of the blaze which saw smoke billowing into the sky and required five fire crews to extinguish.
But Nirad had not insured the building.
He said: “I got a phone call from my architect saying ‘are you aware your building’s on fire’ and I was like ‘what? hang on’ we later found out it was arson.
“The fire carried on for about 14 hours, I didn’t even have the building insured as well and I’m quite devastated really. Insuring an empty property is extremely expensive.
“It was cost element versus what damage could someone cause me? That sort of hit me after, the main thing was was anyone squatting inside the building? Could it have been an internal fire? Had anybody died? Forget even inside the building, anyone around it?”
Due to ferocity of the fire Stoke-on-Trent City Council decided the building would need to be demolished.
Nirad said: “The council have said that if we do not demolish it within a certain time scale, they will demolish it themselves and charge it back to me which could be even more costly.
“Whereas right now I’ve got the option of getting two or three separate quotes and trying to nominate or get the right contractor in to do it.
“It was such an old derelict building we had spoken to several architects and building surveyors and they all said it’s better to just start from scratch anyway.”
Nirad secured planning permission for a seven-storey tower block in November last year and says the build will cost between 1.8 and 2.1 million pounds.
There will also be a roof terrace, ground floor cafe and two commercial spaces.
Nirad said: “I did something, which I hadn’t done before, and employed a strategic planning consultant who was very skilled in what he does, knew the planning guide and handbook very well and we’re now almost successful in getting planning permission for a seven storey city centre apartment block.
“When you come back again maybe in 18 months time or 24 months time there will be 24 two bed apartments, six one bed apartments and a bar slash resturant. Maybe even a wine bar or coffee shop downstairs and an urban garden roof terrace top.
“The build cost is going to be anywhere between 1.8 and 2.1 million pounds taking into account contingencies, not including any demolition costs.”
Estate agent Butters John Bee estimated that the one-bedroom apartments will have a rental value of £525 per month and the two-bedroom apartments will have a rental value of £600 per month.
And they also estimated that the two commercial spaces will make £12,000 per year each giving a total rental income of £19,050 per month.
Nirad was left gobsmacked by the valuation.
He added: “I’m gobsmacked, I’m absolutely shocked with that, with joy of course, I don’t think I even get that many options at a buffet restaurant so absolutely brilliant can’t wait to go home and tell the wife this.
“It’s great news. It was a rather risky investment, but great risk, great reward I suppose isn’t it. But then again I could have lost all that money and not been able to get any planning permission.
“So, absolutely fantastic news, onwards and upwards.”