Shortlist of two for Liverpool super-agency

Downing and Bruntwood, the dominant Liverpool city centre office landlords, are competing to secure the coveted 'Liverpool plc' super-quango letting.

Downing's The Capital has been shortlisted against Bruntwood's nearby The Plaza on Old Hall Street to secure the 12,000 sq ft requirement.

A statement from Liverpool City Council confirmed that "a long list of five city centre premises has been considered which has been reduced to just two following sites visits by the three current chief executives."

The new office will accommodate around 70 staff and comprise board and meeting rooms.

The council spokesman continued: "Now a decision is to be made between the 5th floor of the Capital Building and the 8th Floor of the Plaza, following negotiations with the landlords and discussions on fitting out costs."

The super-agency will become operational in April 2008, following the merger of Liverpool Land Development Company, Liverpool Vision and Business Liverpool. Two of the three agencies are currently located in the city centre with only LLDC outside, in Mersey House, Garston to the south of the city.

The search for premises, being conducted by Keppie Massie, continues at the same time as that for the first chief executive.

A first round of interviews failed to secure a new chief executive after the preferred candidate, Mike King, head of economic development in Jersey, declined the offer to take up the post for "unspecified personal reasons".

Mike Parker, chair designate of the new company, said: "We want to ensure that we select the right person long term for this high profile role and will take all the time needed for this process.

"In the meantime the hard work which I and the transitional management team are doing in the formation of the new company will continue."

The new agency's draft business plan has been completed and is currently being assessed by the three main partners; English Partnerships, the North West Development Agency and the council.

The other contenders for the consolidated office are understood to have been Horton House, 20 Chapel Street, and Mercury Court. The 340,000 sq ft Plaza has dominated the secondary office market in the past two years since its turn round by Bruntwood and is now all but fully let.

The Capital, by contrast, has had a slow start under Downing and is yet to complete its first deal. Downing bought the 100,000 sq ft former insurance house from Royal & SunAlliance at the end of 2005. R&SA still occupies part of the building.

The agents for The Plaza are DTZ, Matthews & Goodman and CB Richard Ellis. Downing retains GVA Grimley and Keppie Massie on The Capital.

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