Freesteel Blog » Who needs exactly 618,839 sq ft on the estuary?

Who needs exactly 618,839 sq ft on the estuary?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 at 1:48 pm Written by:

I was cycling down through Garston last Sunday and encountered this astonishing behemoth.

Obviously I thought it had been built for some massive stuff distribution corporation, like, based on some insane business plan of air-freighting hardback books into Liverpool airport from China and then sending them out to all corners of the country by HGV — before they came to their senses. But no…

THE VAULT was developed by Gladman, the only major distribution developer to incorporate an internal building contracting division

As a result, the costs of returning to the site to retro-fit items and carry out bespoke alterations are minimal in comparison to traditional speculative design and build contracts utilising external contractors.

This enables the warehouse floor to be retro-fitted, allowing customers to vary the floor specification to suit their own requirements, saving the significant cost and time implications of adapting or replacing a standard floor retrospectively.

About Gladman:

The Gladman business concept is simple; to provide high quality office accommodation and warehouse/distribution facilities speculatively. We build offices in a range of sizes on one location in a matter of a few months, and then rely on our products attracting previously unknown occupiers to them.

Because we build speculatively, we can fulfill demand wherever it occurs – from local, expanding businesses to foot-loose companies that urgently need space and locate to wherever this is available.

Our sites are located on pleasant business parks, always close to the motorway network and easily accessible. Leases are available from 12 months upwards for certain office products.

Investment buildings are available at many Gladman sites, providing an excellent investment for company directors or pension funds.

About The Vault by Gladman:

The Vault, located at Liverpool International Business Park, is a state-of-the-art distribution facility extending to 618,839 sq ft.

Gladman have sold The Vault as part of a portfolio sale of four million square feet of industrial/distribution space to a US fund. Evander Properties are appointed as the asset manager on behalf of the fund. Gladman, working in partnership with Evander Properties, are ensuring that the buildings meet requirements for each individual occupier.

There’s no indication of this mysterious “US fund”, now the proud owner of a never-used facility designed by a turkey for the old-fashioned, dead-end, fossil-fuel, centralized road distribution economy that we have known for many years cannot continue, but Evander Properties shows four more of them. (A sixth, the Leeds Cosmic Park appears to be the only one doing anything other than zero business.)

A bit of hefty googling produces this 16 March 2007 story:

The US firm [Rockpoint Group] is poised to pay Gladman Developments more than £180m for vacant completed schemes and development sites in Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, Runcorn and Durham, totalling 4m sq ft (371,610 sq m) .

The portfolio represents most of Gladman’s industrial development pipeline. This is the first time Rockpoint has invested outside London and is also its first industrial acquisition. The fund manager started investing in the UK in 2005 with the joint purchase with Catalyst of the ITN headquarters on Gray’s Inn Road in Midtown for £112m.

In the wake of the two big sales, Gladman is set to embark on a nationwide assault on the retirement home and student accommodation markets.

In terms of economic justice, this means that ignorant American investors are therefore responsible for unlocking Gladman’s bad capital constructions in order that they can apply their genius in other parts of the economy where there is greater opportunity to create lasting social harm — a factor no doubt very low on their priorities.

As late as 24 April 2008, Rockpoint closed an oversubscribed $2.51billion real-estate investment fund “as it was comfortable with the amount of capital it had attracted.” What they actually meant was: “they were becoming un-comfortable with the shear amount of money thrown at them that they were now going to have to invest.”

Anyways, that’s where it’s at today. I’ll keep my eye out for the collapse of this particular property investment company and the future of this ridiculous warehouse. Perhaps if I’d seen it before and taken the mickey out of it on a blog, someone in Rockpoint might have googled it, and invested in something actually potentially useful, leaving Gladman out of pocket as they deserve to be. Perhaps this blog post will come up in the future during the firesale of this portfolio item. A little more local immediate geographical on-line information and common sense about future directions could do wonders for these sorts of investments at a distance that are done on the basis of no information.

But where the heck did it come from?

From the Liverpool Council website:

Phase 2 of the Estuary Commerce Park is now well underway – rebranded as Liverpool International Business Park by its owners Peel Holdings. Covering over 154 acres, it will eventually provide 2.9 million square feet of mixed use commercial space and employ 9,600 people during the 15-20 year timespan of the development. Already, it has become home to some of the city’s largest newest buildings. … “The Vault”, a 600,000 sq ft speculative distribution warehouse, was completed in April 2007. With 56 dock levellers and space for 110 trailers, this huge facility has enormous capacity and scope to attract warehousing/distribution industries.

From the Liverpool Echo on 29 May 2007

LIVERPOOL International Business Park is almost full after owner Peel Holdings sold 15 acres to three new tenants.

The developer, which also owns the neighbouring Liverpool John Lennon airport, Mersey Docks and the Trafford Centre, has now sold 145.9 acres of the original 157 acres of land it bought over two years ago.

It is estimated that the latest 15-acre sale will help create nearly 1,500 jobs between the three new occupiers. The park will create a total of 9,000 jobs… Situated next to Speke’s fast growing Liverpool JLA and in close proximity to the motorway network its location has played a large part in the success of the park.

So that’s “full” as in “full of junk buildings flogged off to speculators”, eh?

Here’s some more attractive prospects in that cluster.

Where did the money come from? 15 October 2003 – Eurogrants says:

This latest round of funding shows the remarkable spread of projects that we can help through Objective One, many of which might not happen without European support. These schemes offer long-term benefits – for instance, investment in Liverpool John Lennon Airport will encourage airlines to fly larger aircraft on more routes, helping the airport to continue to develop as a major economic engine for the North west.

AIRPORT EXPANSION: a further grant of £1,895,000 to Liverpool John Lennon Airport, making a total of £7,160,000, towards the £21.5 million cost of improving airport facilities to attract new airlines and services. The airport development plan phase III is designed to increase terminal capacity, upgrade and extend aircraft landing, taxiway and parking facilities, upgrade operational equipment, increase car parking and improve the bus interchange. The work is expected to create 749 jobs.

The Liberal Democrat dominated City Council has been subsidising the Liverpool airport all it can and in many different ways for years, being as they are totally disconnected from reality and unable to get a grip on the future. It gets worse. On 13 July 2006:

Peel Holdings has announced a masterplan for the £600m expansion of Liverpool John Lennon airport by 2030, including new routes and a world cargo centre

Clearly, there’s been some very big bets placed on this stupid airport. This massive expansion is all based on an industry-sponsored very bogus Airport White Paper printed back in 2003 that based its so-called analysis on exponential-curve-fitting of demand growth over previous years that has been so effective at predicting property prices — until the boundary conditions are reached. Just as the property speculation numbers took no account of the finite amount of money people have in terms of income and debt, the air-travel projections took no account of the finite amount of time people had to travel, not to mention the finite supply of fossil fuels available, or the finite carrying capacity of the atmosphere to absorb the products of combustion without leading to dire consequences.

Not that our wise and disconnected business and political classes have any record of taking account of financial bubbles or threats of ecological collapse.

Further long-term clues in “Examples of Revitalised Urban Industrial Sites Across Europe” December 2004:

Speke Garston Development Company was established to develop and promote Speke Garston’s strategic sites in order to attract large-scale investments to South Liverpool. Its main tasks included upgrading the physical environment of all the main road corridors through Speke Garston, improving infrastructure and building appropriate new infrastructure and working with private sector developers, investors, and end users. Company representatives emphasised that working in a small executive team enabled them to work together easily and it facilitated decision-making and communication with the board. SGDC subbed out work to a lot of consultants such as landscape architects, planners, marketing specialists etc. Its aim was to create three million square feet of new industrial and commercial accommodation and 9,300 full-time jobs. The company has fulfilled many of its major objectives for Speke Garston, was reorganised in 2003 and named Liverpool Land Development Company (LLDC). It is now responsible for continuing regeneration in Speke Garston and for several new regeneration projects in the rest of Liverpool.

Speke Garston Partnership (SGP) was formerly set up in 1995 to work alongside SGDC. It was also established after the successful £17.5 million (€ 25.1 million) bid by the Liverpool City Council to the government’s Single Regeneration Budget Challenge fund. SGP is located in the same building as SGDC which facilitated co-operation. The board consists of members drawn from all sectors of the community of Speke Garston. SGP is responsible for establishing training and education programmes for the local population so that locals would be in a better position to take advantage of new jobs created. The agency also addresses other issues crucial in assisting the local population such as community safety, childcare and health thereby empowering the local community. A third programme the agency engages in involves supporting new and existing firms in Speke Garston. The agency also has a time-limited contract until 2004.

SGDC drew up a masterplan for the former Northern Airfield, which was approved in 1997 and implemented over succeeding years. The first programme undertaken on site was to improve the public realm of the main road corridors. Roads were improved such as Speke Boulevard, the main southern gateway into Liverpool with the construction of new footpaths and cycleways and the planting of 250,000 trees, shrubs and plants. These and other infrastructure upgrades were to support a targeted marketing of the area, because it was the first step toward improving the image of Speke Garston. SGDC had to fulfil several marketing objectives simultaneously: they needed to attract larger industrial office users to the Estuary Commerce Park and Boulevard Industry Park, smaller local and incoming SMEs to the Speke Industrial Estate (Venture Point), and shops for the New Mersey Shopping Park.

Oh, and if you still want to invest in building some more road and air-travel centric property on the vacant lots beside the big empty places, there’s still a chance.

We photographed some of these new cycleways mentioned.

We were very impressed petrol-head inspired “CYCLISTS DISMOUNT” signs at every place where might possibly encounter the rightful owner of the land: a car. Clearly the planners didn’t have a clue. Is it fair to generalize this to the whole mission?


  • 1. News about Real Estate In&hellip replies at 12th February 2009, 10:34 am :

    […] Freesteel created an interesting post today on Who needs exactly 618,839 sq ft on the estuary?Here’s a short outlineAs late as 24 April 2008, Rockpoint closed an oversubscribed $2. 51billion real-estate investment fund “a… […]

  • 2. Cookeville Homes replies at 3rd April 2009, 11:30 am :

    We were very impressed petrol-head inspired “CYCLISTS DISMOUNT” signs at every place where might possibly encounter the rightful owner of the land: a car.

    “Thanku Owner”

  • 3. Soft Mick replies at 11th September 2009, 8:48 am :

    Good news! They’ve sold the building. B&M Bargains has bought the entire thing as a new distribution hub, meaning they’ll be able to shift their mountains of plastic tat to high streets up and down the land in even greater volumes. Well done everyone.

  • 4. Freesteel&hellip replies at 4th November 2009, 9:10 pm :

    […] What a load of bollocks! The one and only strategic resource for the nuclear industry in Cumbria is its 50-year-old 200 hectare nuclear waste dump on the coast, deliberately located as far away from civilization as possible. I’m sure the businessmen running the place, if they are actually on the site, are quite capable of chartering their own helicopters to get them the hell out when there is a risk of a melt-down. What other reasons could do they need to be in a hurry? Experience shows that during a property boom, it’s easy to get money for buildings sight unseen. […]

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