We were sad to hear recently that Leaf, based in the Elevator building on Parliament Street, had shut its doors to concentrate on its newly-opened Bold Street branch.
Its original incarnation in the Static Gallery was a real gem, but Leaf’s move to the up-and-coming Baltic Triangle felt like a brave and powerful expansion to a side of the city centre, at a time when many visitors had barely been past the sticky benches of the Baltic Fleet.
Its closure and shift to Bold Street has a strange effect on the balance of the city. The Baltic Triangle had a big PR and media push last year: “It’s like New York in the 80s or something!” said a salivating array of planners and developers impressed by its crumbly potential. Bold Street, meanwhile, was considered a danger zone, on its last legs. A street under threat from Liverpool ONE’s giant TopShop-gloved claws.
But, surprisingly, the tide seems to be turning: the buzzing Bold Street Coffee, the ever-thriving Tabac, and now the freshly opened Leaf have injected a new homegrown energy to a strip of the city everyone thought was done for. Even bigger brands like Bench are starting to move back to Bold, and the forthcoming Central Village looks set to include even more.
Where does this leave the Baltic Triangle, though? The loss of Leaf (and, recently, The Orchid) might be a bigger blow than you’d think. The area lacks a central hub that a cool, multi-purpose, well known venue like Leaf provides – it was a gig space, meeting place, and friendly hangout. Ultimately though it was a shop window for the Baltic Triangle. A place to show people that yes, stuff actually does go on at that side of the city, and it’s worth the ten minute stroll from town.
The impressive CUC building has been woefully underused, undervisited and underpromoted in the past, but the huge forthcoming Threshold festival looks set to open up that side of the city to a demographic who may not have been aware of it before. Punters who aren’t necessarily artists, musicians or in-the-know creatives. It’s an important (and crucial) move in reestablishing the Triangle, and refusing to let its untapped potential go to waste.
It’ll be fascinating to see the shifts and flows of movement over the coming year throughout the city. Liverpool ONE still thrives and the Bold Street fightback is in full effect, but it’s the Baltic section that will be the most interesting to watch. Will it remain a slightly-too-out-the-way-for-most-people curiosity, or blossom into the most buzzing area this side of Williamsburg? What do you think?