A family firm from Brighton has bought the Hippodrome and pledged to save the Victorian building from further decay.
The deal was sealed late yesterday (Thursday 17 September) with the Lambor family, who run Matsim Properties, completing the purchase for an undisclosed sum.
The family, who have been involved in the Brighton and Hove property scene for many years, bought the grade II* listed building from Hippodrome Investments.
The business, also known as Hipp Investments – or just Hipp – is a Guernsey-registered company run by Aizen Sheikh and his brothers.
They bought the building, in Middle Street, Brighton, three years ago but were facing pressure to make more significant repairs than they have managed so far.
As locals, the new owners are acutely aware of the affection that many people have for the Hippodrome – and the extent of the task ahead of them.
They already have specialists on standby to start work on stabilising the building. Their priorities include repairs to the roof as well as removing asbestos and tackling dry rot. The initial work is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
A family representative said: “As a local family firm of developers, we have been saddened to see the decay of the Hippodrome in the heart of the city.
“This unique building is obviously a very sensitive venue in the city and has a long history of neglect.
“We felt that one more winter of water penetration and further spread of the dry rot would probably result in its loss forever, without a major expense from Brighton and Hove City Council.
“There have been several developers over the past 13 years who have had various ideas and plans for the buildings.
“But, unfortunately, they have totally ignored the fabric of the building which is now in an appalling state.
“We have therefore bought the Hippodrome and our first priority is to save the building from further deterioration and decay.
“In that respect, we are immediately starting work to cure the problems of water getting in, remove the asbestos, strip out the many areas of dry rot, open up the windows to get proper ventilation and remove the excessive rubbish that has accumulated, allowing the building to breathe.
“While not essential immediately, we also propose to redecorate the front elevation which has been very badly vandalised over recent years.
“We naturally hope that this will prevent further vandalism and deterioration while we establish a future for the building.
“We will begin a process of assessment, both in terms of what is required to restore the auditorium and what would be the most attractive and viable use for the site, bearing in mind the extensive works required.
“Fundamentally though, we feel that a use should be found that will ensure that the auditorium is restored and made accessible to all, while fitting within a viable scheme.
“We appreciate the sensitivity of this building and hope that we can bring the city on board with a scheme as it develops.”
The building, most recently a Mecca bingo hall, has been disused since 2007.