Electric Playbox


FUN OVERLOAD…Manchester Arndale is taking it upon itself to inject a bit of fun back into the city. After Place North West revealed plans for leisure outfits Roxy Lanes and Electric Playbox to convert units within the shopping centre in January and April respectively, landlords M&G Real Estate and Intu Properties have confirmed that the two companies have signed leases totalling a combined 30 years. 

Electric Playbox is a flashing mishmash of virtual games, motion sensors and digital chaos, brought to us by the founders of the eye-wateringly brutal Tough Mudder assault courses.  

Roxy Lanes 4

The venue has signed a 10-year lease for a 3,000 sq ft unit at Halle Place, while Roxy Lanes, a menagerie of entertainment including bowling, gaming and indoor golf, has signed a 20-year lease for 14,000 sq ft of space in the former Birdcage nightclub unit on Withy Grove. Is anyone else tired already? 

Lockdown Lowry

LOWRY OUTLOOK…LS Lowry’s paintings are known for their matchstick figures and bleak Lancastrian settings. But what would those dark satanic mills and frostbitten industrial landscapes look like without their hordes of sloping humans? James Tory, owner of Manchester-based video production company Doodledo Motion knocked something together to demonstrate what Lowry’s The Mill, Pendlebury, which sold for £2.6m in January, might have looked like had he lived through lockdown.

Telephone Kiosk

MISSED CALL…Technology has been king during lockdown. Zoom for meetings, Slack for instant messaging, virtual tours and viewings, are just a few examples of how the industry has adapted to a world without face-to-face meetings. It is hardly surprising then, that with this rise of sophisticated tech, plans to install more than 20 telephone kiosks in Manchester City Centre have been pulled. The last time anyone used a phonebox for its intended purpose, Donald Trump was a semi-harmless TV billionaire and Corona was just a type of beer.

Communications company Infocus Public Networks, part of outdoor advertising firm JCDecaux, was behind the plans lodged with the council in May. The Middlesex-based company wanted to install the structures on Market Street, Deansgate, St Marys Gate and Piccadilly Gardens but has now taken the call to pull the plug on the plans. THING tried to calll Infocus for comment, but nobody picked up.

Tidal Shame

c.Uncover Liverpool

TIDAL SHAME…That’s the name of Liverpool’s latest piece of public art, which aims to highlight the plight of our oceans. It depicts a gannet fighting to disentangle itself from a pile of rubbish. The detritus was collected from various shorelines around the UK during lockdown when thousands flocked to Britain’s beaches and failed to remove their litter when they left. The sculpture, by Gail Dooley, now stands outside Liverpool Parish Church, where it will act as a year-long monument to callousness. 

30 James Street

OPENING UP…It must have been a stressful few months for Vicki Hanlon, general manager of Liverpool’s 30 James Street. First she was furloughed and then, while off work, she learned that the hotel, a subsidiary of Signature Living Group, had fallen into administration. Thankfully for her, hospitality group Legacy Hotels & Resorts has since been appointed to take over the running of the 63-bedroom hotel by consultancy Savills, the receiver to the property.

Hanlon is now back at work and preparing to reopen the hotel on Saturday, more than four months since it welcomed its last guests. She said: “It’s amazing to be back and it’s a privilege to work in this building. There’s a certain feeling you experience when you walk up the steps here, a sense of history and what’s gone on down the years and I’ve missed that.

“It’s like opening up a brand-new hotel because it now has new operators and it’s very exciting. I foresee a happy future for this hotel under the new ownership. The message is clear – we are still here, we are offering a great service and we are open for business.”

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