Liverpool Central Shopping Centre External

Anderson: Retail acquisition too good to pass up

Liverpool City Council is to buy the shopping centre above Central railway station from Aviva as it seeks to accelerate regeneration schemes including Augur’s neighbouring Circus project.

A report to the council’s cabinet tomorrow recommends approval for the purchase of a 114-year lease on Liverpool Central Shopping Centre, and for the council to simultaneously enter into a 20-year underlease with Liverpool CSC.

Although the purchase price has not been disclosed, the deal is understood to be worth around £17m.

The proposed tenant company is related to the Augur Group, which has taken over the previously stalled redevelopment of the Lewis’s building and five acres of surrounding land.

Augur bought the Lewis’s building and the land last summer, and started a £1.5m restoration programme for the 400,000 sq ft building, which along with new build elements has been rebranded as Circus – effectively taking over from the mixed-use Central Village scheme previously promoted by Merepark.

Liverpool CSC will have an option to purchase the shopping centre, which due to doubling as the railway station’s main entrance attracts footfall of 16m people per year, from the council after five years.

The underlease for Central shopping centre, which contains 21 retail units covering more than 50,000 sq ft, will earn the council £4.3m over the first five years.

Buying the centre falls within mayor Joe Anderson’s “Invest to Earn” strategy, which uses the council’s ability to borrow at low rates to stimulate profit that is then reinvested in services, along the lines of the purchase of the Cunard Building, which now generates a rental income of £2m a year.

The council is currently assessing tenders to develop a masterplan for the Knowledge Quarter Gateway zone, which includes Lime Street and Bold Street and is intended more effectively connect the £1bn Paddington Village scheme to the main retail core of the city centre.

Anderson said: “The purchase of Central Shopping centre is too good an opportunity to pass up. It enables us to acquire a strategic site in a prime city centre location which we have plans to regenerate and the investment makes a profit for the council to reinvest in our services.

“The beauty of this deal also means that plans for Lime Street, Lewis’s Building, Circus Liverpool and Central Shopping Centre are now all interconnected. This will all help to underpin the development of the Knowledge Quarter Gateway which is the next major piece in a 10-year plan to regenerate the city centre and finally connect the waterfront to our universities.”

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Have we actually seen the financials which confirms the Cunard building now turns £2m a year? If not then perhaps that should be pre-fixed with “which it is said by – insert name of whoever said it – to generate an income of…”

On the point of documentation, an additional point of invest to earn in property comes from the price of the property itself and its subsequent values. Perhaps Place North West might want to try some FOI requests in relation to the document supporting some of the figures relating to property values. Could PNW do any better than Josie Mullen’s dogged efforts back on 16/12/15…? I’m not sure.

What’s the story behind the purchase? Why’s it for sale? By who? What is the financial forecast for it? Who stands to benefit from this development? What have any discussions with the owners of the “Circus” entailed? Why aren’t they buying it?

Shouldn’t it be redeveloped as primarily a transport hub? And isn’t that the remit of the city’s transport authority at real city, rather than just borough, level? Shouldn’t Network Rail be contributing/consulted? What are their plans? In theory, for all we know they might prefer a solution that tears the lid off the place. Of course they might also want it moved entirely. The city needs the right solution for the city.

You don’t just decide to buy a shopping centre on a whim, so why is the first time we’ve heard anything about this? And yet here it is, report going to council and practically a done deal. Are the people of the city informed only on a need to know basis these days?

By Mike

Councils continue to buy stock no one else will and make no money shocker…

By Right said Fred

Because we all want to invest in underperforming retail…

By Kenwright

Mike Storey in “chuck enough mud and some of it will stick” shocker.

Bigger picture here.

By Joe

On a lighter note…that first image really does show how Liverpool’s city centre topography, layout, and architecture really does make it stand apart from anywhere else in the UK.

By Mike Rainer

@MikeStorey – what, a 60’s shopping centre, street with some terrible public realm, a building falling into disrepair due to Britannia Hotels and an empty building going derelict? I can think of some better vistas in Liverpool…

By Anonymous

Mike Storey/Awayo/The Famous Goose – can spin any positive as a negative if it involves Jo Anderson.

By Deebee