The company, known until last year as Neptune Developments, is creating 412 student apartments, a 101-room Premier Inn hotel and 29,000 sq ft of retail space at the city centre project. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool developer Ion says it is close to agreement with two major occupiers to take 27,000 sq ft of retail/leisure space at its £39m Lime Street scheme.
The company, known until last year as Neptune Developments, is creating 412 student apartments, a 101-room Premier Inn hotel and 29,000 sq ft of retail space at the city centre project.
And Ion managing director, Steve Parry, told LBN it was in talks with a potential financial backer for the £11m conversion of the former ABC Cinema on the corner of Lime Street into a hi-tech performance venue with space for 1,500 seats.
The site has been empty since the last film was shown there 20 years and he told the Liverpool Echo in March that work on the new facility, which would include a TV studio, would hopefully begin later this year.
And now, in an interview with LBN, he says: “We are in negotiations with a funding partner for the ABC. They are looking a valuations right now so it is moving forward and we hope work can start later in the year.”
On the two lettings at the main Lime Street scheme, he added: “We are in negotiations and legals on two lettings – one reasonable-sized one and a larger one – totalling 27,000 sq ft of the available 29,000 sq ft. One of them is a pub/restaurant operator.”
Lime Street is due for completion by late summer and they have already started to test the hi-tech lighting which will turn the facade different colours.
Ion also has a number of other projects in the pipeline in Merseyside and in other parts of the UK, including Wolverhampton and Rhyl in North Wales.
It is set to take a major role in Liverpool’s £1bn Knowledge Quarter project and is currently in the process of putting together a masterplan for the gateway to the scheme around the Lime Street area.
In Lord Street, in the city’s central retail core, it is working with major institutional investor Vabeld on a plan for the former BHS store. Mr Parry is remaining tight-lipped on the plans but it has previously been reported that international fashion retailer H&M was being lined up as the new tenant.
Ion is also planning a major regeneration scheme for the centre of Birkenhead separate to the the joint venture project currently being undertaken by Wirral Council.
There has been controversy in Liverpool in recent weeks over the “fractional selling” method of funding schemes whereby smaller investors buy individual residential units. The collapse of the New Chinatown project put the issue in the spotlight.
However, Mr Parry stressed all Ion’s development had solid backing from established global institutional investors. On Lime Street, for example, it is working with Curlew Capital , an offshoot of CBRE Global Investors.
“Everything we do is backed by institutional investors – these are serious players,” he explained. “We believe strongly in bringing institutional investors into Liverpool.”