K2 wins Metquarter brief

Retail asset manager Queensberry has selected K2 Architects to reposition the 130,000 sq ft Metquarter in Liverpool as a premium dining centre.

The Metquarter, fronting Whitechapel and Victoria Street, was acquired by Queensberry and Bywater Properties from Columbus UK Real Estate Fund at the start of this year. The new owners plan to change the use of the north-west end of the mall facing Victoria Street into restaurant units. The centre has 44 units, although one third are vacant, and tenants include AllSaints, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Jo Malone and Jack Wills.

Paul Sargent, chief executive and co-founder of Queensberry, said: “We can confirm the appointment of K2 Architects to explore options for the refurbishment of the MetQuarter in Liverpool, which we purchased earlier this year. Any potential investment into the centre is at the early stages of consideration and we will release further information in due course.”

The Metquarter was the second joint acquisition by Queensberry and Bywater, following the Kingsway Centre in Newport in 2014.

Queensberry, working for Aviva, successfully transformed Manchester’s Corn Exchange from a struggling retail centre into a pure-play dining destination with more than a dozen restaurants.

K2’s retail pedigree includes designing stores for the fledgling As Nature Intended brand by Caroline Gooding, daughter of Iceland founder Malcolm Walker. K2 founders Mark Davies and Kevin Horton worked together at BDP on the design of Liverpool ONE, Grosvenor’s dominant 1m sq ft retail district, where K2’s studio is based.

Savills advises Queensberry.

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Agents and project team have a job on their hands to replicate Manchester’s corn exchange. Met has a dingy interior, a Frankenstein exterior (part Arndale, part wedding cake) in a scruffy and ugly run down place and a relatively deprived city.

By Jack the lad

Jack’s anti-Liverpool prejudice is obvious. Victoria Street is part of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile World Heritage Site and is a beautiful Victorian thoroughfare crammed with listed buildings. That end of the Met Quarter was Liverpool’s glorious old post office… top two stories blown off during the Liverpool blitz. With the right imagination the potential is huge… Liverpool’s leisure market is growing exponentially and its attractiveness as a visitor destination is beyond dispute…
I see huge and growing numbers of overseas visitors bewitched by the city every week!

By Alfie

Was down the ‘Pool for a few beers on Saturday afternoon. Gaff’s certainly a sleeping dragon. No-one seems able to wake it, though.

By Mizzer

The Triangle was down on its backside for a number of years, and the food conversion seems to have been a great success. I see no reason why that success won’t be replicated here: the parallels are obvious.

By zebith

Something needs to be done, the place is dead and is in a run down part of town, not right for shopping. All Star Lanes were going to open there at one point which would’ve been good. It’s a shame we can’t get luxury shopping to be successful in L’pool though, if we were to have a successful luxury shopping destination it would need to be near L1.

By Kerem

The parallels are actually few… Manchester succeeds, belatedly… partly because the population of the surrounding areas actually had few facilities in the city centre and there was great untapped demand. For many years there was nothing in Manchester to rival the Albert Dock, Hope Street or Bold Street, and there still isn’t really.
Liverpool by contrast is an exciting destination with many attractive restaurant areas and has been for a long time.
Victoria Street leads through to Castle Street which is Liverpool’s latest hip dining street in its most historic area, one of the original 7 streets. The Triangle area in Manchester is coming on nicely and is linking up with the old cathedral church, but the city will never seriously rival Liverpool as a destination unless people believe in the emperor’s new clothes.
Knock down that bridge by the cathedral and link up with Salford better.. Chapel Street still has a lot of character…

By Alfie

Fair comment Alfie. I think there’s enough demand for MetQuarter to be a success too though. Take your point about Victoria Street, but the Whitechapel side of this area needs something to lift it a bit.

All Star Lanes, or similar, in Liverpool would be fantastic.

By zebith

Seems sadly typical for Liverpool to be chasing the latest outlet in a derivative chain like All Star Lanes as though it were the mark of a grown up city. Embarrassing. Are there no innovative local operators with their own leisure concept rather than trying to be a mini-London-sur-Mersey?

By Jack the lad

Agree Zebith, the neglected Whitechaple side needs to be part of a ‘grand plan’ to link this area to St. George’s Plateau…. At last they’ve announced they’re gonna do something with the ‘St George’s Quarter’ to create the civic square it needs… the ideal place for Christmas markets! Whitechaple and that ‘non-square’ at Dawson Street (by the Marks and Spencer basement access), as well as the whole of the Queens Square area needs greening and making more pedestrain friendly linking up the Royal Court, Playhouse and Empire theatres… I think they’re planning less buses coming through that way so that they can improve the environment. They desperately need to make it a much more pleasant environment for pedestrians and this will lead to inventement. The Christmas markets should eventually lead down from the new St. George’s Square thorugh Whitechaple to the Church Street… that could create a magical experience during the festive season… Historically St. George’s was the site of the Folly Fair after it moved from Castle Street area… has always been a place of entertainment and enjoyment and could be again with the right vision.

By Alfie

Liverpool has never compared itself with London, that’s Manchester, Liverpool has always looked across the Atlantic and out to the world. On the retail front many American brands first came to this country through Liverpool.

By Alfie

Liverpool is positioned on an estuary. People from the city do like spinning an overly romantic narrative of the place as do people from Hull, Grimsby, Southampton and Whitby all of which ‘look out to the world’. If Liverpool attracts an All Star Lanes it will at least differentiate it from those places I suppose but it’d be better if a local operator took space there.

By Jack the lad

Manchester has never compared itself to London.It has always done it its way.I cannot believe that anyone would make a silly comment.The most radical city in Britain has never given two hoots about London.

By Elephant

It’s not over romantic Jack, it’s just the way it is… Liverpool was the first global city… and in any case what’s wrong with a bit of romance.

By Alfie

Can’t really knock Liverpool for being a romantic place.

Any time somebody says “Second City”, as either a claimed reality or aspiration, that is comparing Manchester to London. There’s so little to do there for the size of the place, its unreal.

By zebith

I like Liverpool, but it is fast becoming a Day out city,like York or Chester. This is not the way forward for this great city.Great waterfront is fine but New York as a great waterfront and much much more.

By Elephant

Nothing wrong with a bit of romance, regardless of whether it’s rooted in reality or shared by anyone else. What it won’t do is fill restaurants in an untested and rather unpleasant building in an unpleasant part of town.

By Jack the lad

I always thought a common phrase was “What Manchester does today, London does tomorrow”
Have I recalled that right? Namely spouted by the Grandees of Manchester and only them.

By Man on bicycle

The building isn’t unpleasant!

By zebith

Man on bicycle. You are right. Manchester was the centre of the great reforms of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a fact, not a soundbite. Manchester has always been a very Un-English city. Believing in direct action to put what is wrong right. This is from Peterloo, through Women’ suffrage,Trade Unions, The emancipation of slaves in the Southern states of America and more recently Gay rights. What that quote should say is, What Manchester, does today, the World will do tomorrow’ London wouldn’t know a radical campaign if it dropped from Big Ben.

By Elephant

Ye Gad sir, this is more serious than I thought, this could turn into a Hollywood movie.

By Man on bicycle

It is very sad what has become of the White Chapel area and Williamson Square – I don’t often go to this part of time and was very saddened to see its demise from having some half decent shops such as John Lewis and Stoniers etc. to betting shops and pie shops when it has such close proximity to Lime Street – a gateway to the city, to the fabulous St John’s gardens. Appreciate this is a result of the Liverpool One transition but think Liverpool City Council should be ashamed of themselves as it could be so much more! What Liverpool does need is a Harvey Nics or similar seeing as we aren’t allowed a Selfridges – I understand there is some kind of embargo that they can’t open so many miles from Trafford centre branch or will have to pay some kind of penalty. Apparently Selfridges Trafford Centre branch makes more money than the Manchester store, greatly contributed to by the ‘Scouse pound’ – despite not being able to stock the higher end labels such as Chanel and the like (as to stock these brands the brand demand a city centre store).So is this not a case for the argument. As for the Liverpool and Manchester debate – both have great things – why not just enjoy each others cities instead of the boring old football feud! As at the end of the day we are all ‘Northern Monkeys’.

By Mary Smiley

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