The £160 million Central Village development in Liverpool, which was scheduled for completion next year, has run into trouble and all work there has ceased.
Central Regeneration, a joint venture between Altrincham-based Merepark and Irish developers Ballymore, own the scheme. It is part completed on the 600,000 sq ft development, which comprises a 25-storey tower and a 20-storey mid-rise building, 300 apartments, a hotel, the Grade 2 listed former Lewis's store ( a nine storey 420,000 sq ft building),300,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, 75,000 sq ft of office space and a six-screen Odeon cinema.
The scheme is 85% complete, in the final phase, with the Q-Park multi-storey car park and a 125 room Adagio apart-hotel in the upper floors of the former Lewis's building already open. Major restaurant operators including TGI Friday’s, Harvester, Cosmo, Coast to Coast, Prezzo, Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito have already signed up for space.
This phase of the scheme was funded by debt from the Co-operative Bank, plus £4 million of NWDA funding and investment from a Regent Capital syndicate. However it is thought that the work has gone 15% over budget. With Co-op Bank itself in difficulties, and Ballymore tied up with it's own problems, getting new funds into the scheme was always going to be difficult if this happened.
The contractor is Merepark Construction Limited, a cell company within the Merepark Group.
Paul Barber, partner at Begbies Traynor, said yesterday: “Following the bank’s decision to take control of the Central Village scheme, the directors of Merepark Construction were left with no alternative than to seek advice as to the process of entering into creditors’ voluntary liquidation.
“All 10 of the company’s staff were made redundant with immediate effect and were informed of the decision this afternoon.”
However uncertainty surrounds what is going on, as the Bank has denied that it has sought to take control of the scheme. According to accounts for the year to 29 February 2012 Merepark Construction's positive net asset position was dependent on £2 million it was owed by Merepark Project Management LLP for work done.