Construction started on the £40m Exhibition Centre Liverpool and £26m integrated hotel at Kings Dock in Liverpool, England — a significant milestone in the destination’s plan to become a leader in hosting large-scale trade and consumer exhibitions.
The 8,100 square meter, three-hall exhibition center and the 216-room ‘headquarters’ hotel will form part of ACC Liverpool, home to BT Convention Centre and Echo Arena. The new facilities are expected to open in summer 2015.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson toured the construction site on Feb. 17. He was joined by Bob Prattey, chief executive of ACC Liverpool; David McDonnell, chairman of ACC Liverpool; and Alan McCarthy-Wyper, managing director of ISG Construction — the firm hired to build the new facilities.
“I’ve pushed this project hard from the beginning because I know what a huge economic boost it will bring to our city and the jobs it will create. It’s a great example of how we are investing to earn,” said Anderson. “Exhibition Centre Liverpool and the integrated hotel will help us become one of Europe’s leading destinations for large conferences, exhibitions and events. It’s great news for our city that despite the difficult economic climate, we continue to drive forward with delivering important regeneration schemes like this.”
The exhibition center is being delivered at no cost to council taxpayers. Funding is raised through borrowing, paid for through income generated by the center. This type of capital borrowing is similar to a mortgage and cannot be used to fund day-to-day services but can be invested in developments that bring economic benefits. The city council is using this ‘invest-to-earn’ approach to drive forward new developments, with any surplus ploughed back into providing services.
“ACC Liverpool has proved a success since opening six years ago, generating £760m in economic impact for the city region and hosting a series of high-profile conferences, concerts and sporting events,” said Bob Prattey, chief executive, ACC Liverpool. “Adding an exhibition center will help us to develop our complex, and the world-class waterfront, further welcoming a wider range of attractions.”
Plans for Exhibition Centre Liverpool include an atrium, meeting rooms and a business center. The three halls will each be 2,700 square meters and will be separated by movable walls. Exhibition Centre Liverpool and the integrated hotel will be directly connected to existing ACC Liverpool facilities via an interlinking bridge.
The first phase of construction includes installation of piling and foundations to fix the building to the sandstone bedrock 20 meters underneath the site. An underground tunnel will be built during this stage to provide services to the hall floors. The next stage will see the start of the steelwork erected for the exhibition center and the concrete frame for the hotel.
Archaeologists carried out excavations over the past six months and discovered sections of the dock wall from 1780. The foundations will be installed to retain some of these original features.
In its first year of operation, Exhibition Centre Liverpool is expected to host about 50 events and attract more than 250,000 visitors.
It is estimated that the exhibition and event program will support 1,300 jobs in the wider economy and contribute in the region of £40 million per year in economic benefit to the Merseyside area.
“There is a real opportunity here to create a long-lasting legacy that is transformational for the local community. By utilizing the skills and expertise of the local supply chain and providing training and apprenticeship opportunities, ISG is further strengthening its commitment to ambitious and hard-working individuals in Merseyside while supporting high-quality regional businesses,” said Alan McCarthy-Wyper, managing director of construction business, ISG.
Merseyside’s The Chrysalis Fund invested £8m into the Exhibition Centre.
“This deal is an important milestone for the fund and represents our commitment to invest in high-quality urban regeneration schemes in the Liverpool city region. It is fantastic that the loan will be used toward such an important scheme for the city, which will bring about job creation and economic benefits – the two main drivers behind the Chrysalis Fund itself,” said Jim Gill, chairman, The Chrysalis Fund.
The Chrysalis Fund initiative is backed by the European Investment Bank, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and European Regional Development Fund under the JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) program. It launched in 2012 to re-ignite employment — creating commercial and industrial property development projects in Merseyside.