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Work starts on multi-million pound Exhibition Centre and Hotel

17 February 2014

Work is underway on a world-class exhibition centre and hotel on Liverpool's waterfront.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, visited the construction site of the £40m Exhibition Centre Liverpool and £26m integrated hotel at Kings Dock today (Monday 17 February). He was joined at the site by Bob Prattey, chief executive of ACC Liverpool; David McDonnell, chairman of ACC Liverpool; and Alan McCarthy-Wyper, managing director of ISG Construction, to see the scheme beginning to take shape.

It is a significant milestone in the city’s plans to become a leader in hosting large scale trade and consumer exhibitions.

The 8,100m², three-hall exhibition centre and the 216-room ‘headquarters’ hotel will form part of ACC Liverpool, home to BT Convention Centre and Echo Arena.

The Exhibition Centre is being delivered at no cost to council taxpayers. Funding is raised through borrowing, paid for through income generated by the centre. 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 which 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.

With work now underway, the new facilities are expected to be open for business by summer 2015.

Mayor Anderson said: “Delivering a world class exhibition centre is a major priority for me. 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.

“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.

“I’m delighted work is now underway on this fantastic facility – it’s yet another important landmark in the on-going growth and development of our waterfront.”

Exhibition Centre Liverpool will be capable of hosting large conferences, trade and consumer exhibitions, concerts and sports events on a national and international scale. Plans for the facility include an atrium, meeting rooms and a business centre. The three halls will each be 2,700 sqm and will be separated by movable walls.

Bob Prattey, chief executive of ACC Liverpool, said: “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.

“Adding an exhibition centre will help us to develop our complex, and the world class waterfront, further welcoming a wider range of attractions including global conferences, exhibitions, concerts and international sporting events.

“Exhibition Centre Liverpool has been several years in the planning and we are pleased to see the construction site already taking shape as our exciting journey to become the UK’s newest and most exciting destination for large trade and consumer exhibitions progresses.”

Exhibition Centre Liverpool and the integrated hotel will be directly connected to the existing facilities at ACC Liverpool, via an interlinking bridge.

The initial phase of the building work will see the installation of piling and foundations to fix the building to the sandstone bedrock 20 metres 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 centre 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 programme 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.

Alan McCarthy-Wyper, managing director of ISG’s Construction business, added: “Reaching such an important milestone in the development of this world-class exhibition venue has only been achieved through the determination, innovation and commitment of every single project partner. Today marks the transformation of this ambitious vision into reality as we commence construction of both the new exhibition centre and integrated hotel at ACC Liverpool.

“There is a real opportunity here to create a long-lasting legacy that is transformational for the local community. By utilising 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.”

Merseyside’s The Chrysalis Fund invested £8m into the Exhibition Centre scheme. Chairman Jim Gill said: “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 towards 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.”

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) programme. It launched in 2012 to re-ignite employment - creating commercial and industrial property development projects in Merseyside.