Record label, brewery, bar and Chambers reunion nights - all part of the dream vision for Sunderland's Mackie's Corner

A record label base, brewery, deli and Chambers reunion nights are all part of developers’ dream vision to transform one of Sunderland’s most historic buildings into a thriving hub housing up to 30 businesses.

Thursday, 1st August 2019, 4:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st August 2019, 5:11 pm
Mackie's Corner

The Hutchinson’s Buildings – better known as Mackie’s Corner – have watched over High Street West since Victorian times.

For generations, the shopping complex at the junction of Bridge Street and High Street West was a favourite meeting spot for Wearsiders.

Last month, planning permission was granted for improvement works to the roof and shop fronts funded through a heritage grant scheme.

Sunderland property developers Alex and Toni Kirtley outside Mackie's Corner which is set for a major revamp

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However, these improvements fall against a backdrop of a multi-million pound private development to attract businesses to the city centre.

Sunderland property developer Henry Kirtley recently took over the building with brewery, food and office spaces among ideas for future uses.

The family business – which has a large portfolio of property in the city – have now revealed wider plans for the future of Mackie’s Corner.

Developers Alex and Toni Kirtley invited us for a sneak peek of the building before works start in Autumn.

Over the decades, several areas of the building have fallen into disrepair with major renovation work needed.

However, many original features remain including coal chutes, doors, tiling, wallpaper and the remnants of the former Chambers nightclub which closed in 2002.

When complete, the development aims to strike a balance between the history of the building and more modern uses.

Alex Kirtley explained: “We want Mackie’s Corner to be a name and destination in Sunderland.

“We’re going to keep the name because we think it’s really important and we hope to have a lot of businesses from Sunderland working together in one place.

“A place for smaller businesses to grow instead of going to bigger cities.

“Anything that’s original we will maintain and we want to create an original style with a modern twist.”

Photography studio, bar – and events space in former Chambers nightclub – all part of vision

Developers have said the building could house 30-plus businesses with spaces tailored to meet the needs of tenants – including ‘hot desks’.

One confirmed tenant so far includes a Sunderland-based photography studio.

Early ideas also include a bespoke bar and brewery / distillery, a deli and an events space in the former Chambers nightclub.

While details are being confirmed, this space could house a record label and host reunion nights.

Heritage funding

A portion of funding for the revamp is linked to Sunderland’s ‘Historic High Streets’ Heritage Action Zone which was set up in 2017 following a grant from Historic England.

Under the scheme, grants are made available to property owners for repair and improvement works incorporating match funding from Sunderland City Council.

A grant pot is available with shares distributed to projects making bids – with the Elephant Tea Rooms also set to benefit.

For Mackie’s Corner, the funding will relate solely to corner itself including external changes to the roof, windows, shop fronts and clock faces on the dome.

Developers have said they plan to use local contractors for the development works.

And looking forward, they hope a revamped Mackie’s Corner can play a key part in the transformation of Sunderland’s high street.

Alex Kirtley added: “It’s not only about changing the building, it’s about changing the perception of Sunderland.

“The council is changing and developers are putting money in and it’s time to change the city into a place where people live, work and spend their money.

“We wanted to save this building from the state it was in before it got ruined any further, it’s the most iconic building in Sunderland.”

From history to the future

Mackie’s Corner was built in 1845 on the site of a large house owned by Dr William Clanny, inventor of the miners’ safety lamp.

The building’s first tenant was Robert Mackie, a hatter, whose shop attracted passers-by as his workers could be seen through the windows making hats.

The Hutchinson’s Buildings have faced many changes over the years including a major fire in 1898 which damaged the eastern half of the site.

In recent months, the building has also hosted several pop-up art exhibitions paying tribute to the building’s past.

Developers are currently looking for prospective tenants for the Mackie’s Corner development.

For more information, contact: alex.kirtley@qcspace.co.uk