Consortium buys stalled Liverpool New Chinatown regeneration

By Paul Norman - Wednesday, March 07, 2018 12:14

Work is set to resume on the New Chinatown regeneration project in Liverpool following its acquisition by a consortium of investors.

Great George Street Developments has acquired the company which owns the leasehold on the stalled New Chinatown project, a five-acre regeneration scheme in the city centre.

The deal brings to an end uncertainty over the site and work on Phase One of the flagship five-acre scheme is expected to resume by this summer.

Great George Street Developments counts Jason Oakley, a senior banker of 32 years, as a shareholder and as leader of the investor cohort.

Oakley is the former Managing Director of Metro Bank’s commercial banking and mortgage arm based in central London and previously headed up SME banking for both NatWest and RBS, based in Edinburgh.

An established Liverpool property development company, Primesite, facilitated the acquisition and will be providing advisory services to the new company as it progresses its plans.

Primesite is progressing three major property schemes in Liverpool - Strand Plaza, Herculaneum Quay and The Rise. Primesite has a development pipeline worth £90m across the UK and has completed and sold £70m worth of projects in the last three years.

Neal Hunter, Development Director for Great George Street Developments, said they were now engaging with existing investors in the stalled scheme to assure them that their investments are safe.

Mr Hunter said: “We are in talks with Liverpool City Council and other stakeholders about some legacy issues but anticipate these will be resolved swiftly.

“Our intention is to resume work on Phase One of the development by this summer and to revise the existing plans for Phases Two and Three.”

Phase One of the development comprises 117 apartments and almost 6,000 sq ft of commercial space.

Hunter added: “Our view is that the new overall scheme can better align with the city’s strategic aspirations and better connect and relate to the Baltic Quarter and the existing Chinatown.”

“Our funding model will also be significantly different – we are engaging with major institutional investors to fund the scheme, rather than being reliant on multiple small investors.

“Our experience tells us that applying an investor-led, fractional sales model to developments of this size and type is not the most appropriate funding method.

“While Phase One has been partly pre-sold on the basis of off-plan sales of units, we will be delivering the remainder of this phase and the procurement of Phases Two and Three on an institutional funding model, as well as ensuring all existing investors within Phase One get the apartments they signed up for.”

Great George Street Developments expects to submit a revised planning application for Phases Two and Three of the site in the summer and will be consulting with Liverpool City Council and other stakeholders ahead of that submission.

Hunter added: “We believe there is the opportunity to significantly improve the quality of the scheme by introducing some larger commercial space and a better mix of housing, including family homes.

“We are now engaging with investors in the scheme who had bought apartments off-plan in Phase One whilst under its previous ownership.”

Kerry Tomlinson, Managing Director of Primesite Developments Ltd, said: “Primesite had the resource, knowledge and influence at a local level to broker this deal, and we are proud to hand the baton to Great George Street Developments for the delivery of the project.

“Owing to our commitment to completing the three prominent Liverpool sites on which we are already working (Strand Plaza, Herculaneum Quay and The Rise), we felt it was important to help set up a dedicated development company which would be better resourced and led by industry-renowned investors and principals.

“Primesite’s own pipeline is too full for us to be able to commit to a project of this magnitude for the city, so we will instead be offering our advisory expertise to ensure this development becomes the landmark our city deserves.”

Advisors to the new project include Arup, Brock Carmichael architects, JMW and CBRE.

pnorman@costar.co.uk

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