It was trumpeted as Liverpool’s first ever five star hotel. It issued spectacular images of the refit. And, controversially, it altered the city’s only extant, and complete, Victorian street facade in the process.
“All good things come to those who wait,” they said when building began. But, after six years of false starts, liquidations, suppliers going out of business, and building delays, SevenStreets can reveal developers Iliad have sold their share of the building, the old Municipal Annex, on Dale Street/Sir Thomas Street.
“There have been a number of delays,” Iliad tells us, “but building works are complete, and the fit out works are due to commence within the next few weeks.” The city based developer – responsible for much of the city’s regeneration over the past decade – have sold their shares to a ‘consortium of Dubai based investors,’ they say.
SevenStreets understands that the building has been acquired as a franchise for the Hilton hotel chain, and that its highly-anticipated five star status will be downgraded to an ‘urban four star’ – which, we believe, means it’ll be chic, but not spectacularly so.
Number 6 Sir Thomas Street was – controversially – knocked down, breaking the city’s last remaining complete street of Victorian office facades. Owners (at the time) Iliad Koukash (a JV between Dr Marwan Koukash and Iliad – the hotel being named after Koukash’s daughter) said that the different floor levels between the annexe and the education offices made it difficult to incorporate 6 Sir Thomas Street into a scheme.
Following the go-ahead by the planning committee, local conservation activist David Swift wrote to English Heritage to ask for the building to be granted listed status. English Heritage issued a decision, saying then Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has decided not to list the building.
Since then, progress has been slow: and architects changed. Current incumbents are Falconer Chester Hall, who created the stately new approach to the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Paul Falconer, partner at the firm, explains: “We had to stitch together three different structures. There are 30 levels across seven storeys, and you have to create access to them all.”
Developers were keen to point out that they’ve spent – already – in the region of £20m to ensure that their historic features are retained.
The primary building originates from the 1920s and the designs – at least the last time we saw them – saw the hotel’s principle rooms lead off from a central striking 1920s steel-caged lift, with a glass exterior. All 84 rooms are currently being fitted out for an opening scheduled for next spring.
It has, indeed, been a rocky road. And we’re sure many people are still less than happy with development, but SevenStreets is pleased that, finally, a hotel will open here, amid challenging economic times (and, if we’re honest, we’re pleased it won’t be another Premier Inn). Let’s hope, as they said, it really has been worth waiting for.
Meanwhile, in a cruel twist of fate, the Wirral has snatched Merseyside’s first five star hotel status – Greasby’s Hillbark nabbing the award last month!