NWDA plugs £3m gap in Mann Island office

Neptune Developments and joint venture partner Countryside Properties have been awarded £3m of public grants by the North West Development Agency to deliver the 140,000 sq ft office building at the Pier Head in Liverpool.

Transport authority Merseytravel signed a 30-year prelet in January for the bulk of the building, taking 106,000 sq ft, but the remaining vacant three floors of 33,000 sq ft will be paid for by the NWDA.

The NWDA said in a statement issued today: "It had previously been anticipated that the office element of the Mann Island mixed-use development could be delivered independently, however the current financial climate has resulted in significant negative yield movement, increasing funding and construction costs. The delivery of Mann Island will provide a much needed boost to the stock of available floor-space in Liverpool, and ensure the building is completed as soon as possible."

The grant takes the NWDA's investment in the city's waterfront developments to in excess of £50m. Other schemes include the Arena & Convention Centre, Leeds-Liverpool canal link, Museum of Liverpool, Mersey Ferry terminal and cruise liner facility.

Jim Gill, chief executive of economic development agency Liverpool Vision, said of Neptune and Countryside's project: "This is an excellent scheme which complements the wider regeneration of the waterfront creating businesses, leisure facilities and apartments, which overlook a new canal basin in an iconic part of the city.

"As a result of Mann Island regeneration there will be an additional 140,000 sq ft of office space and 76,000 sq ft of leisure and retail space and this investment support is most welcome."

Critics of the public funding for Mann Island say the money could have been used to attract private sector occupiers rather than shoring up a public prelet.

Neptune/Countryside are in talks with German fund Commerz Real to buy the office building at Mann Island.

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