Whiteabbey’s historic Edenmore building has been put on the market with agents inviting offers of around £800,000 for the former care home.
The local landmark, which was once the home of Lord Shaftesbury, has been put up for sale by commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton who say they are “expecting significant interest in the property.”
The two-storey Victorian building was originally built in the late 1880s as a private house for James Torrens, a wealthy solicitor and land agent for the Donegall and Shaftesbury Irish estates.
The original building still boasts historic features such as high ceilings with detailed cornices and grand staircases.
The property contains 70 bedrooms, communal rooms and also benefits from 30 parking spaces at the front and side of the property.
The estate has a colourful history, and in 1928 it became the quarters of the Edenmore Veterinary Hospital under the patronage of the USPCA.
In 1950 the house and demesne served the war effort as RAF Edenmore, a base for No.67 NI Reserve Group and No.3502 (Ulster) Fighter Control Group.
Edenmore then opened as a hotel enterprise in 1963 and became a popular destination for wedding receptions.
After owner Jack Rogers sold the property to the Sandown Group, the estate was subsequently turned into a nursing home.
The nursing home was closed last July after Four Seasons Healthcare decided that it was“no longer a suitable environment in which to provide nursing care to modern standards.”
In 2013, there were fears for the future of the borough’s architectural heritage after planning permission was granted for the demolition of the historic house.
The site currently has planning permission for a 60-bed nursing home, but as the building is not listed it could potentially be demolished for residential use, subject to planning.
Surveyor at Lambert Smith Hampton Andrew Fraser told The Times that the property could be sold as two separate lots, but that the agent was expecting it to be sold as one lot.
He stated: “The older section of the site and the newer could be divided, but we are leaving it up to the client.
“Edenmore has a wonderful history and offers a fantastic development opportunity for a new nursing home operator.”