Two entrepreneurial women are proving that property development isn’t just a man’s world.
Melanie Brown and Varsha Sehgal have established Provenance Developments to build and create high-end, design-led property projects around the North East.
The Newcastle-based company has just completed its first project – an ambitious restoration and conversion of an historic former synagogue into luxury apartments. And having completed their first, the two women are now considering various options for their second high-profile project.
Byzantine House, located in Eskdale Terrace, Jesmond – originally built as a place of worship - has been converted into 10 one and two-bed stylish apartments and mews.
Melanie Brown says the £2.5m project is a good reflection of the sort of design-led projects she and Varsha are keen to deliver in the city and beyond.
“Fine-finished, luxury design schemes should not just be available for the wealthy in London. There are some great locations around the North East where people have the money and aspirations to live in bespoke and highly designed homes,” she said.
“Our vision is to establish ‘Chelsea luxury living’ in the region,” said Melanie. “We’re confident there is an appetite for stylish, elegant lifestyle in the region; we just need to bring that to life.”
Varsha added: “When we started Provenance, we knew we didn’t want to be just another ‘me too’ developer. We didn’t want to repeat what others are doing and be delivering more beige boxes to the market. We wanted our passion for design and our attention to detail to shine through. We think Byzantine House achieves that.”
Melanie is an award-winning interior designer whose father had been a builder; she brings a procurement expertise from previously working on residential and hotel development projects. Varsha has a strong background in the fashion and textile industry.
Byzantine House, built in 1914-15 to a design by local architect Marcus Kenneth Glass, is a grade 1 listed building that showcases the style and opulence of an Art Deco interpretation of the Byzantine Revival style.
Malanie and Varsha were determined to respect the unique features of the building. They set out to design apartments that boast individually designed layouts, light filled interiors and an unrivalled level of high-quality finish.
Melanie explained, the luxurious one and two bed apartments have been meticulously refurbished to retain a classic style, while offering a superb standard of contemporary specification.
Byzantine House was originally built as a synagogue and served the United Hebrew Congregation of Newcastle upon Tyne until closure of the building in 1986. More latterly the building was used by Newcastle High School for Girls. And now the building has been converted into luxury living.
Melanie explained: “We turned to specialist local suppliers and sub-contractors. More than 80pc of the Byzantine House conversion went to specialists and artisans in the local area from the ironmongery, wood doors, refurbished antiques and hand-crafted ceilings.”
In July this year, Newcastle City Council placed a plaque on the building in recognition of its historic significance. Lord Mayor Cllr David Cook said: “There’s an enormous danger when historic buildings change their use that their heritage is lost but this fantastic building has been retained and I’m delighted that we still have it here in Jesmond.”
· For more details about Byzantine House call or visit www.urban-base.com
"We want our passion for design and our attention to detail to shine through. We think Byzantine House achieves that"
Varsha Sehgal, Provenance Developments
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