The Metquarter is a parable of our times says author Tom Paver
Posted on Aug 4 2012 at 02:58:07 PM in Literature
Anna Heuston's favourite shoe shop is in the metquarter in Liverpool, the elegantly refurbished former central post office.
It's a light, airy building that was hollowed out to retain its solid and pleasing Portland stone facade and, at the height of the boom was fully let and doing very well, thank you very much.
And then two things happened. First, the Duke of Westminster threw a billion pounds (that's $1,650,000,000 to my American readers) at 43 acres of central Liverpool to create a lovely extension to the city's prime retail core. It tilted the city's axis towards the river and brought with it much-needed competition to the metquarter's clutch of upmarket retailers. Suddenly it felt on the edge of things.
Second, the recession hit, taking out retail chains with alarming regularity.
My PR firm acted for the Irish owners of the scheme, who had paid £87m for it at the height of the boom. It represented a yield of just 5%, very toppy indeed for Liverpool. The city was awash with Irish money at the time as its banks - well connected in Liverpool, as you might expect - threw money at investors.
The rest you probably know - the banks bankrupted themselves and their country with it and their folly is core to the story of my forthcoming novel, Take the Soup, which is published on November 1st.
Anyway, the reason this has cropped up is that I've just noticed in today's Property Week that the building has been sold to Columbus Capital for £21m, just a quarter of what the Alanis chaps paid for it five years ago (good lads, by the way, and they did nothing untoward, just got their timing wrong).
Interestingly, the yield is only 8.5% but that reflects the number of empty units in the centre. Put another way, with active asset management that fills the units the yield should rise considerably.
It's a lovely place and in the right hands should thrive again says Tom Paver, author of The Sanctuary Stone,. I wish the team at Columbus well.