Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Liverpool's Mary Celeste?

Those responsible for the white elephant you see above (the ad at the top of the building has such an air of desperation, don't you think?) are put out that it's been rightly derided for its total absence of architectural & aesthetic merit (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2009/08/11/two-of-liverpool-s-flagship-buildings-shortlisted-for-carbuncle-award-92534-24365970/ ):
"The inclusion of two of Liverpool's flagship developments on a list to find the worst new building in the UK has provoked a fierce backlash."
Yes, One Park West & the ferry terminal, aka the upturned caravan (courtesy, Professor Chucklebutty) have been nominated, much to the fury of an entire city, right? Er, right? Oh.
It turns out that the "fierce backlash" breathlessly essayed by Alan Weston comes from....ahem, a partner at a city centre firm of architects, the city council's executive member for the environment [ha!] Bernie Turner & the Projects Director for Grosvenor.
That's a "fierce backlash", is it?
The representative from Grosvenor even claims that "One Park West had replaced a 'wasteland'. "
Not so. The original Chavasse Park was on the site now occupied by One Parked Here Without Our Say-So.
The partner at the city centre architects Austin-Smith, Alistair Sunderland, proclaims without any sense of irony that One Park West is "a civilised and urbane building". Pity this block of civility & sophistication, like other Johnny-come-latelys on the waterfront, can't sell all its apartments, eh? In fact, it's no exaggeration to say that the signs look ominous (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2009/08/10/property-developers-slashing-prices-to-kickstart-sales-of-newly-build-apartments-in-liverpool-city-centre-92534-24357869/ ):
"The developer behind the Alexandra Tower --the luxury 201-apartment block on Princess Parade-- collapsed into administration owing £49m in December last year.
"Six months on administrators and turnaround specialist Zolfo Cooper admits it has failed to complete a single extra sale."
[If a "turnaround specialist" admits failure, shouldn't it describe itself as a "turned down specialist" instead?]
How is all this relevant to One Park West, you may ask. Well, Ben Schofield goes on to report:
"Further along the waterfront, Grosvenor's One Park West apartment complex is enjoying mixed fortunes.
"There are just one three-bedroom and two one-bedroom apartments still on the market.
"But it is a different story with studios and two-bedroom flats, of which there are still 25 and around 30 respectively remaining.
"Guy Butler, Grosvenor's senior development manager, said one-in-three potential buyers who had exchanged contracts are yet to complete.
"He said the difficulty is the dearth of buy-to-let mortgages and the banks' demand for large deposits."
Hang on, there's something wrong here. Doesn't the Oldham Echo reassure us on a fairly regular basis that Merseyside is immune to the global market conditions? Surely some mistake.
Schofield's piece quotes local councillor Steve Mumby, whose words will make the incestuous world of Merseyside's media & business wince, & the rest of us quote Shakespeare: yea, a Daniel come to judgement:
"People are making the calculation that it is a bargain now, but it will fall more in six months' time and they will get a better deal.
"It is a test of nerves between investors and developers.
"There was a ludicrous over-valuation of apartments in the city centre and an over-supply.
"Probably the market is bouncing back the opposite way. I am worried about the psychology of it."
It's interesting to note a comment piece by William Leece in the same day's Daily Post (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/views/liverpool-daily-post/2009/08/10/comment-inevitable-correction-in-liverpool-city-centre-flats-market-92534-24356716/ ).
Leece begins:
"You don't have to be an economist or an estate agent to agree with [Steve Mumby] that there are too many overpriced flats and apartments in Liverpool city centre.
"Given that conclusion, and the fact that the housing market in general has taken a downturn, the rest follows surely as night follows day."
Indeed, it is a statement of the bloody obvious, one that normally commands the assent of anyone with half a brain. For the recession-deniers on Oldham Hall Street, however, it's a dangerous deviation from the Trinity Mirror line on our "booming city centre", isn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its worse than that a facebook webpage has been set up which is run by Jemma Volp-Fletcher http://en-gb.facebook.com/jvolpfletcher if you follow he links to her friends you will finf Penny Fray, who I am informed is the partner of Mark Thomas who guess what is also a freind on Facebook. What a utter disgrace this whole incestuos relationship with PR companies and the Daily Ghost and its Scally-wag older brother is.