Liverpool’s Heritage V Liverpool Development

We all know how important our city’s World Heritage status is.

However, there is some concern that the status has the potential to have an adverse impact on Liverpool’s growth and future economic prosperity. Now I am not stating that we should NOT keep hold our beloved Heritage status with both hands, but I am stating that there is a very distinct cost and are we prepared to lose even more ground with Cities like Manchester because of our Heritage status, I have written this post to highlight the path that we are on, as we need to create a debate on this matter, you never know there may be an alternative route.

Here is an excerpt from a Liverpool Echo article in 2008;

“A ban on any Liverpool city centre building work at all over the next 18 months may be imposed by World Heritage bosses, council chiefs fear.

Confusing wording in a UNESCO document discussing stripping Liverpool of its World Heritage Site status has been interpreted by some council heritage experts as meaning there can be no development at all in the area 

A meeting last month saw the Liverpool World Heritage Site Steering Group resolve to ask central government to intervene on the city’s behalf to check with world heritage bosses that this is not the case.

Liverpool council told the ECHO it was seeking clarification on the ban but for now it is ‘business as usual’ with planning applications being approved and building work continuing.

The confusion relates to wording in a report about a meeting in Germany at the end of June which saw global heritage bosses from UNESCO discuss plans to strip Liverpool of its World Heritage status because of the multi-billion pound Liverpool Waters skyscraper project.

A spokesman for Liverpool council said: “At its annual World Heritage Committee meeting in Bonn, UNESCO has said that there should be a moratorium on development until December 2016.

“Unfortunately it is unclear which parts of the World Heritage Site this ‘moratorium’ would relate to”

Liverpool’s Heritage V Liverpool Development

As people who follow Signature Living’s developments will know, I have become quite attached to our city’s extraordinary heritage over the last couple of years and I, like many other proud Scouser’s, will guard this amazing status that has been gifted to us by our forefathers, that have created many of our amazing structures and we will be forever indebted to them.

Yet there is a larger issue that lies beneath our UNESCO World Heritage status and that is a battle we are losing with our rival Manchester.

Manchester will one day be known as one of the best cities in the world and it is a much stronger economic powerhouse than Liverpool. Why? Because they have a much stronger development statement unlike Liverpool, they do not have a World Heritage status that forces their planning department to ask permission for the development of any building that dares to venture above our rooftops.

Manchester city centre has over 50 impressive skyscrapers that have now gained full planning, which is more than all the rest of the U.K put together with the exception of London.

Due to this, and the investment that they have gained from the Far East, the city now even has close ties with the President of China who has visited Manchester to underline their future partnership and agree future developments. This is unprecedented. If Liverpool were able to follow the same dynamic path, business in our city would be booming.”

In fact, Liverpool is even more appealing to overseas investment because of our geographical location and gateway to the Atlantic and dare I say we have so much more to shout about, they have a canal, we have the Mersey, they have Oasis we have the Beatles. They maybe slightly ahead on the football stakes, but then that is all they have and we have the Titanic.

It is true that Liverpool is thriving but we could do even better.

I should know – Signature Living is in the eye of the storm.  We understand the parameters that we need to abide by to gain £300 million pounds worth of our funding requirements for 2016 and our task has been become greased due to property bargains that can be obtained when you put similar buildings from Liverpool alongside buildings of similar ilk in Manchester.

Manchester enjoyed a meteoric rise – from humble beginnings, as a minor Lancastrian township, into the pre-eminent industrial metropolis of the United Kingdom and the world.

As we all know timing is everything and we as a city are at a very profound crossroad.  Do we abide by our UNESCO World Heritage status that does not allow us to build higher than our existing rooftops or do we develop this great city? We could create a new skyline which does not interfere with our beloved 3 Graces (which is something I strongly support) I believe that there should be no skyscrapers that dominate the skyline behind our Graces, this will allow our planners to find a way that allows us to sit at the same table as Manchester and you never know we may just be able to drink from the same cup. This will give the fluidity of much needed funds to hit our shores and thus create thousands of jobs and investment, even better we can restart our very successful tourism offer, to ensure the great work of Visit Liverpool can be reignited, I for one have basked in the glory through the success of Signature Living, with their great work but I am very mindful that this momentum will without any doubt slow down. This City has become a tourism destination in its own right and unless we become more entrepreneurial there is a possibility that it may diminish. Above all, sustainability and growth would allow Liverpool to achieve what our forefathers hoped that we would always achieve.

It seems to me that we have been thrown into the ring and we have to fend for ourselves. The issue here is that we have been placed in a heavy weight world title clash, with our hands firmly tied behind our back and we are taking blows, I should know I sit at the table with many funds who are looking to park their capital in our City, but we simply do not have the volume to appease them, unlike Manchester, but just imagine for a minute that we did have the planning permission to build these great buildings, we would actually beat Manchester, due to one simple factor we will be offering much better value. Manchester’s new build offer is at around £400 per foot and Liverpool has only just risen to £250. To give our figures some credence, our Shankly Hotel has been sold to our investors at just £200 per foot, our next on Old Hall Street will be at £250 per square foot.

In other words we are walking away from billions of pounds of potential investment and a huge economic boost.  From Sydney to Singapore, Dubai to New York City, cities all over the world are deemed by the height of their skyscrapers. They symbolise wealth and prosperity and in-still confidence. Here in Liverpool, we are left with just a Beetham Tower, which cascades to 40 floors. Manchester’s tallest building hits 47 floors.

The issue here is are we prepared to stand by and accept that our amazing City can be dwarfed by our nearest rival, or can we gain a greater definition of what Unesco really want from our City, why are we allowing Unesco to sit in their ivory tower and pour scorn upon what we are trying to achieve here, what is wrong with bringing prosperity, jobs and people to our great City.

I do believe that with debate we can harmonise the desire of a city with the credibility of Heritage.

There is just one caveat that I feel that I must add to this post, if we are to build any new structure’s in our City, then we must ensure that we do not allow the developers any scope to plead poverty and due to this they put volume over design. All new developments must be of the highest standards and should serve our City as beacons to reflect what this City is built upon.

Whatever your view, is on the development of this City. Please share this post and leave your comments below.

#Liverpool #scouseandproud #liverpoolsheritage #liverpooljobs

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Future Projects

Since opening our first hotel in 2008, the Signature Living group has grown massively. We have opened three hotels including 30 James Street- Home of the Titanic and The Shankly Hotel which was a partnership with The Shankly Family. We also operate three apartment locations within the city which have been hugely successful and are the go-to accommodation for large groups and party stays in Liverpool.

Liverpool is an incredible city and we’re so proud of where we’ve come from but we think it’s time to take the Signature Living brand worldwide.
We have a range of exciting projects in the pipeline including new developments in Liverpool, the rest of the UK and Europe. This is a very exciting time for us at Signature Living, here are a few of our future projects.

West Africa House, Liverpool

West Africa House is an impressive 1920’s building located on the corner of Water Street and The Strand. Formerly the Bank of British West Africa, this building features a stunning exterior and striking original features within.

Comprising of 6,500 square foot, the beautiful eight-storey building will be turned into a luxury residential development comprising of one and two-bed apartments.
Oh Me Oh My is currently situated within West Africa House with a tea house and bar on the ground floor and rooftop, they will remain here and we will develop the seven levels in-between.

Work is due to get underway in 2016 with completion dates set for late 2016.

ww.liverpoolecho.co.uk
ww.liverpoolecho.co.uk

Signature Benahavís, Marbella

Signature Benahavís is our first European property and one which we are particularly excited for. Located in the Spanish mountain village of Benahavís which is between Marbella and Puerto Banús this development will see Signature Living expand into a holiday destination.

The development will consist of 150 rooms which will sleep from 2-20 people as well as a private villa which is perfect for large groups and comes with its own pool and kitchen.

The development of Signature Benahavís will also feature a restaurant, spa, wedding venue which caters for 300 and a football pitch along with two pools and five acres of land.

Signature Benahavis

Signature Benahavis Villa

1 Arthouse Square, Liverpool

Formerly the NHS CCG Building, 1 Arthouse Square is perfectly situated in the heart of Liverpool’s thriving nightlife district of Seel Street and Fleet Street which is home to a number of bars, restaurants and clubs.

The impressive building has a glass exterior and brick interior and will be developed into a luxury apart-hotel featuring all of the wonderful Signature Living features and interiors which make it a stand out party hotel.

The ground floor will feature a plush reception area as well as a bar which will be run by Bar Signature and ensure the square which connections Seel Street and Fleet Street is a destination for partygoers in the city.

Several of the apartments will look out onto FACT where we will screen movies which can be enjoyed from the comfort of the guests’ apartment & balcony.

McCoy Wynne Photography
McCoy Wynne Photography

60 Old Hall Street, Liverpool

60 Old Hall Street is our first multi-purpose development located in the heart of Liverpool’s business district. The building which was once named ‘the ugliest building on Old Hall Street’ is being transformed into a luxury residential development which will feature premium amenities onsite.

We plan on completely transforming the exterior as well as the interior of 60 Old Hall Street. As you can see below this new development will ensure this property becomes a real focal point of the street with gold cladding and a curved exterior.

We also have plans to put a glass box gym on the rooftop which will be complete with an outdoor running track and garden which will boast incredible views of the city and the River Mersey.

60 Old Hall Street - Exterior

60 Old Hall Street - Running Track

The Coal Exchange, Cardiff Bay

The Coal Exchange is located in Cardiff Bay in Wales and is our first development outside of Liverpool but within the UK. This magnificent building is a Grade II* listed building and was once home to the cities thriving coal business.

We have incredible plans for the Coal Exchange and our goal is to breathe life into this utterly stunning building once again.

The development will consist of Signature Livening’s unique take on luxury accommodation with a mixture of a hotel and Signature Living apartments as well as a restaurant and grand wedding venue in the old trading hall which has a capacity of up to 1000 people.

The Coal Exchange - Cardiff

 

The story of 30 James Street

30 James Street, Home of the Titanic is one of Liverpool’s most impressive historical hotels.

Formerly known as Albion House, this magnificent Grade II* listed building was once the headquarters for the White Star Line shipping company where the RMS Titanic was created.

The White Star Line vacated the headquarters in 1934 after a merger with the Cunard Line and the magnificent building lay empty for nearly 80 years before myself and my wife Katie, restored it in 2014 and turned it into a luxury hotel complete with spa, restaurant, and rooftop champagne bar as well as large wedding venue within our White Star Grand Hall.

During World War II, the building suffered damage to the gable which was not rebuilt until the late 1940’s but thankfully the cast iron girders which were installed stopped it from being completely destroyed.

30 James Street is so rich in history we decided to celebrate the White Star Line and all those involved in the Titanic within the hotel.

I’m proud to say that 30 James Street is now a central landmark in the city and people come from all over the world to stay in this historic building and soak in all of its history.

30 James Street is a magnificent building and I’m so pleased with what it’s become and how well it has been received by not only the people of Liverpool but by people all over the world.

Watch the story of the 30 James Street Hotel below.

The Signature Living Story

Many people have heard of Signature Living, but many don’t know the story behind it all. Who is Lawrence Kenwright and how did Signature Living become one of the leading accommodation providers in Liverpool.

I started Signature Living on the 14th of August 2008 with just a single apartment on Victoria Street which was purchased from a liquidation I went through just a few years previous.

I was a victim, like many others, of the collapse of the financial market in 2006-2007 which resulted in me losing all of my assets.

After purchasing the whole Victoria Street block, we found one particularly large apartment which we decided to put 15 beds in. The larger apartments were booked out 6 months in advance and at this point we knew we were really onto something. We created something which unbeknown to us, was desperately needed. Stag parties, hen do’s and birthday groups needed large accommodation and Liverpool was the perfect city to host them.

This is when Signature Living as we know today was really born.

Since that financial crisis and coming back from the brink, we now own and operate three hotels, three apartment blocks, two restaurants, and a spa within our 30 James Street Hotel.

Over the next few years, we have a whole host of new developments in the pipeline, some of which are already underway across the rest of the UK and Europe.

The Signature Living you see today is worlds away from that one apartment we had on Victoria Street in 2008, and here is my story.
 

Taking Dereliction From Our Streets

It is well-known fact that Liverpool has more listed buildings than any other city outside of London, yet more of them are derelict and at risk than any other.

Many of these beautiful buildings have simply been left to rot, causing huge and unmanageable damage which is expensive to repair and in some cases irreversible.

It’s fair to say that Liverpool is on the crest of a wave; tourism in the city is booming with the city welcoming 57.6m visitors last year and was voted 3rd city in the world for the most visited city by Rough Guides. But sadly our commercial offering doesn’t offer the same hope and is arguably the lowest it has ever been. We have over 2.1 million square feet of empty office space in the centre of our city.

Restored Buildings

Thankfully, this issue with regard to our office occupancy levels has been veiled by the huge success that we are experiencing with the erection of many refurbished listed buildings that are now huge beacons attracting new guests to our city. These hotels include;

With the exception of The Shankly Hotel, all of the above have been derelict for many years and are now not only creating jobs but are also creating a lot of intrigue. Each and every one of these buildings is stepped in history, which make them a destination in themselves. Restoring these amazing and historic buildings breathes news life into the city and is so much better than new build properties which are more often than not, bland and boring. I’m more than happy to say that in recent years the restoration of historic buildings in Liverpool has increased and the number of new-build hotels has decreased.

30 James Street- Home of the Titanic
30 James Street- Home of the Titanic

The tourism industry in the city is absolutely booming, four years ago Liverpool had just over 2,400 beds with an average occupancy rate of 71%. There are now more than 7,500 beds reaching an average occupancy rate of 75% an increase of 4%, with weekend occupancy higher still. However, what we really need is to attract more companies to the city as a place of business to fill the hotel beds midweek.

But we can’t expect to maintain and expand our accommodation without the relevant investment. One of the main reasons Liverpool has found itself as a hub for property investors all over the world is due to the UK being seen as a ‘safe haven’ for investors. Especially as other countries are currently experiencing some economic difficulties.

The Shankly Hotel
The Shankly Hotel on Victoria Street

Liverpool’s Investment Potential

There are also a number of other factors which have contributed to the upsurge of property investors in Liverpool. In the capital city of London, market prices are increasing at an unprecedented rate year on year, meaning the return on investment isn’t as good as it could be. These investors have subsequently moved further north to cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. Manchester has become the capital of the North, boasting a huge commercial and tourism industry. The property market in Manchester is at its highest point, making the chances of finding a reasonably priced deal, very rare.

For this reason, Liverpool is now in the top five cities for property investment and development and is one of the most sought after cities in the UK. Overall, property values are still very low and we have an abundance of properties. From an investors point of view, Liverpool is the place to be. The cities popularity is increasing at a remarkable rate and the property market is rife with incredible investment opportunities offering safe and continuous investment.

Abandoned Buildings in Liverpool

In all of my 30 years in business, I have never known so many abandoned units being put up for sale. As the country and its banks have become more stable, they can afford to offload their liquidated assets which they viciously snatched from developers at the beginning of the recession. Unfortunately, I was one of those developers and believe this was a real catalyst in driving our economy even further into the mire.

Flickr/SteHLiverpool
Flickr/SteHLiverpool

Liverpool’s Mayor, Joe Anderson is widely known as a mayor who will help any investor or developer who wants to put their money into this great city. This message is one which should really resonate throughout the entire investment market, not only in Liverpool but also across the rest of the UK and the world. In order to gain more investment in our city, we must make the planning process much easier, this would only entice more investors and ultimately improve the development of Liverpool.

Lyceum Building, Bold Street / liverpoolecho.co.uk
Lyceum Building, Bold Street / liverpoolecho.co.uk

However, it has to be said that there are a number of buildings in our city which have listed status. Due to this, the owners of these buildings are not paying the rates and, therefore, do not have any desire to develop the sites. There are other methods that our conservation department could use which would help to reignite their desire to develop or even sell their properties to others who do wish to restore and develop them.

We do not want to be a city which is associated with dereliction and empty spaces, we have the opportunity to fight back and continue on the path which sets Liverpool as a major city in the UK and Europe for both leisure and business purposes. By making the city more accessible to developers and investors, I believe this can only have a positive effect on our plight of ripping dereliction from the streets of the city centre.

Signature Living Buys West Africa House

We are very pleased to announce that Signature Living have bought Africa House, a grand 20th-century building located on Water street.

Acquiring this beautiful building is the next step in our expansion plans which will see us obtain a number of unused and listed buildings in the city and develop them into grand spaces which can be used and appreciated by the public.

The building currently lies empty apart from Oh Me Oh My, a teahouse situated on the ground floor as well as being home to a rooftop bar.

The eight-story building will be transformed into seven floors of luxury one and two bedroom apartments with the same plush luxury feel as out other serviced apartments around the city.

The building offers stunning views of the majestic Three Graces and we hope to bring this building to life once again.

The building is a huge 6,500 square foot and was previously home to the Bank of British West Africa and was a prominent place of business in its heyday.

This is the second residential development we have announced in the past couple of weeks, last week we revealed the CGI plans for 60 Old Hall Street which will be our first multi-purpose development. 60 Old Hall Street will comprise of office space, apartments, a retail unit and a rooftop gym and garden which will also feature an outdoor running track boasting incredible views of the city and the River Mersey.

We are delighted to have acquired West Africa House, this unique building offers stunning views of Liverpool’s historic waterfront.

I am really excited about the plans we have for this well-known building and it further demonstrates the company’s growing strength in the residential marketplace.

2016 is going to be an ambitious year for Signature Living with many more exciting announcements to be unveiled in the coming months.

CGI Images Revealed for 60 Old Hall Street

The Signature Living group have revealed exciting CGI plans for their 60 Old Hall Street development which is currently underway.

The development will be Signature Living’s first multipurpose development consisting of residential space, serviced apartments, office space and a ground floor retail unit. This will also be the first commercial office space which Signature Living have developed.

The in-house CGI visualiser has created a series of images of the development including the exterior and the rooftop area of the building.

Co-founder of Signature Living, Lawrence Kenwright says he hopes the multi-million-pound project will be completed in around nine months.

He said: “This will be our first development with office space.

“There is currently 2.1m sq ft of empty office space in Liverpool but not enough of it is quality accommodation.

“60 Old Hall Street, which forms part of Liverpool’s thriving commercial district, will become a landmark building with our redevelopment. We’re really looking forward to getting underway on this project.”

60 Old Hall Street - Running Track

60 Old Hall Street - Gym

The building which was purchased by Signature Living late last year was once called the ‘the ugliest building on Old Hall Street” was purchased by the company for £1.8 million. The new development plans make 60 Old Hall Street an exciting addition to the street which is the centre of the business district in Liverpool.

The exterior plans consist of golden cladding and a curved exterior making it an exciting destination and desirable place to work, live and visit.

The development of 60 Old Hall Street will also be home to a glass box gym and outdoor running track which will boast stunning views of the Liverpool city and the Mersey River from 127ft up.

Signature Living boss Lawrence Kenwright says the gym is set to become a landmark destination; “60 Old Hall Street’s rooftop gym is set to become a landmark destination – this once ugly duckling is being transformed into an impressive attraction which will boast stunning views across Liverpool’s commercial district.

“We are radically transforming the building and I think its features such as this which will make it popular with visitors. This development is yet another milestone in Signature Living’s ambitious plans for 2016.”

60 Old Hall Street - Exterior