Member of the Week - Ardconnel Court
Renovated in 2015, Ardconnel Court has a fascinating history. Now known as the Crown, this area was originally Barnhill, the first “New Town” in Inverness. Barnhill had, as its name suggests, been primarily agricultural, with only a few barns and associated grazing, and it was the home of the Inverness Cattle and Sheep Market for many years – hence the name Market Brae Steps, which nowadays lead you straight from the apartments to the heart of the city’s retail area.
The building at 38 Ardconnel Street, originally called Hill Terrace when it was built, was built circa 1840 for the purpose of a school by the Free Church Institution. The Institute was renamed Inverness High School in 1864.
In 1875 it ceased to be a school when the new High School (now Crown Primary School) opened. It is believed that this is when it came into the hands of the Northern Counties Institute for the Blind. Social enterprise is not a modern invention, a hundred and forty-two years ago the church concerned itself with making provision for blind parishioners. At that point a residential school was established where people could come from all over the Highlands and Islands to learn how to read Braille. Setting up a business to provide jobs (creating beds, mattresses and bedroom furniture) for people with visual impairments was a natural progression and that is how Blindcraft started.
The “Home for the Blind” continued in use as administrative centre and showroom for Blindcraft, and offices for SightAction, until recently when Blindcraft moved all their resources across the road to their factory. At that point the opportunity to meet a gap in the market and create high end serviced apartments was identified by Crown Apartments. With exceptional attention to detail the process of creating Ardconnel Court apartments began resulting in eight bright, spacious, desirable apartments each with stunning views to Inverness Castle and across the city to the distant mountains.
We spoke to David Maclean, developer and director at Ardconnel Court. We asked David why he would like to feature as member of the week: “We would like to feature as member of the week in order to increase exposure of the services we have to offer and to bring attention to the difference between a serviced apartment and a hotel.”
David believes there are benefits to staying in an apartment as opposed to a hotel such as – home from home comfort; private, fully equipped kitchen – great for longer stays; space – an apartment has up to 30% space than a hotel room; apartments can prove to be more cost-effective with rates charged per apartment as opposed to per-person, giving more value for money.
David shared with us their business plans for over the next 12 months: “To continue to develop our interaction with other local businesses in order to be able to offer our guests a wider experience. We currently work with both tour operators and chefs so that our guests can enjoy quality ready prepared food or have a private chef experience after a day out sight-seeing. And to build on the corporate side of the business by offering competitive rates.”
We asked David what he values most about his Chamber membership: “Access to online help and advice via the website in addition to networking opportunities”.