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Liverpool’s New Chinatown project to resume following acquisition

Work will resume on Liverpool’s stalled New Chinatown scheme following its acquisition by a consortium of investors, it has been announced.

Phase one of the five-acre, mixed-use project includes 117 apartments and almost 6,000 sq ft of commercial space and is expected to get underway again this summer.

A consortium of investors under the name Great George Street Developments has acquired the company which owns the leasehold on the major project.

The investor cohort includes Jason Oakley, the former managing director of Metro Bank’s commercial banking and mortgage arm based in Central London, as a shareholder and leader.

The senior banker of 32 years has also previously headed up SME banking for both NatWest and RBS.

Liverpool property development company Primesite facilitated the acquisition and will provide advisory services to the new company as it progresses its plans.

Great George Street Developments is currently said to be engaging with existing investors in the stalled scheme to give assurances that their investments are safe, and a revised planning application for phases two and three of the project are expected to be submitted this summer.

The consortium will consult with Liverpool City Council and other stakeholders ahead of revised plans being submitted.

Neal Hunter, development director for Great George Street Developments, says: “We are in talks with Liverpool City Council and other stakeholders about some legacy issues but anticipate these will be resolved swiftly.

He adds: “Our view is that the new overall scheme can better align with the city’s strategic aspirations and better connect and relate to the Baltic Quarter and the existing Chinatown.”

“Our funding model will also be significantly different – we are engaging with major institutional investors to fund the scheme, rather than being reliant on multiple small investors.

“Our experience tells us that applying an investor-led, fractional sales model to developments of this size and type is not the most appropriate funding method.

“While phase one has been partly pre-sold on the basis of off-plan sales of units, we will be delivering the remainder of this phase and the procurement of phases two and three on an institutional funding model, as well as ensuring all existing investors within phase one get the apartments they signed up for.”

Hunter also hints at the changes to the development itself, and goes onto say: “We believe there is the opportunity to significantly improve the quality of the scheme by introducing some larger commercial space and a better mix of housing, including family homes.

“We are now engaging with investors in the scheme who had bought apartments off-plan in Phase One whilst under its previous ownership.”

Advisors to the new project include Arup, Brock Carmichael architects, JMW and CBRE.

New Chinatown is one of several projects in the city which original developer North Point Global announced last year it would be seeking to dispose of, alongside a Pall Mall scheme and the Baltic Triangle’s Baltic House and Berry House developments.