A year ago, we ran a piece about the Met Quarter, and its obviously turbulent tenancy rates. It was a sadly prophetic tale. We worried about Flannels. They’ve gone. We said how Molton Brown was the perfect tenant. They’ve gone. We talked about how the transition from Liverpool ONE to the broken sewers of Whitechapel must be like walking from West to East Berlin, circa 1972. Now the Council is talking about shutting down the Tourist Information Centre here, it’s another vote of no confidence in this shabby stretch of real estate.
Walking through the Met today, it’s even more gap toothed than ever.
Encouragingly, it’s great to see John Johnson’s Spirit of Shankly exhibition breathe life into one of the abandoned retail units. John’s an excellent local photographer, perfectly bringing his passions to life in this closely curated set of images.
“As a photographer and lifelong Liverpool supporter I felt compelled to document those dark days of rule at the hands of Hicks and Gillett and more importantly the subsequent uprising from fellow fans, which would lead to the formation of the Spirit of Shankly, the first independent football supporters’ union in the UK,” Johnson says.
But pop-up shops and temporary exhibitions don’t, sadly, do much to stem the flow of business away from Whitechapel and towards Liverpool ONE.
This week, Anglo Irish Bank announced it was selling its stake in the centre, which it paid £85 million for, four years ago.
But with a quarter of its units empty – and key fashion brands Flannels, Hobbs and Whistles deserting it – it’s hardly the most tempting of investments right now.
We requested an interview with the Met Quarter. They turned us down.
We wanted to chat about the feedback our feature received, talk over their hopes for the future, share our readers’ ideas. Engage with them. They were having none of it. Shame, really, as SevenStreets readers are obviously interested in the mall, as we are – just like those Liverpool fans who cared for their team, in the face of recalcitrant owners, and refused to give in.
It’s our city, after all. And no one wants a black hole in the heart of it. No matter how fancy the lighting sculpture.
Encouragingly, there are four new tenants on the way. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the long climb back to viability.
Spirit of Shankly: The Noise That Refused To Be Dealt With
Until September 2, Upper Floor, Met Quarter
To order prints:www.spiritofshankly.com