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Ipswich: Wine rack set for vintage future

PUBLISHED: 09:19 18 July 2012 | UPDATED: 09:37 18 July 2012

The incomplete Regatta Quay stands above the skyline in IpswichÄôs waterfront.

The incomplete Regatta Quay stands above the skyline in IpswichÄôs waterfront.

Archant

THE Waterfront’s monument to the recession DOES have a future!

The Regatta Quay wine rack has been a symbol of the downturn ever since developers City Living went into administration more than two years ago.

After the concrete was left exposed over two harsh winters – and record rainfall during the spring and summer this year – it had been thought that the only option would be to pull it down.

But now a thorough survey by experts working for agents Savills has concluded that the basic structure is sound – and the company is now looking at ways of completing the building.

Savills’ director of development Andrew Redman said his company hoped to start looking at a plan to develop the site in about five weeks’ time.

It could then take about six months before a detailed development plan emerged – meaning it could be next spring before the future of the building was confirmed.

There are three possibilities – Savills might look for a partner to work with on developing the building, it might carry out the work itself, or it might look to sell the site to a developer with a plan for the work.

Mr Redman said: “Whatever happens, things are looking a great deal more positive there and we hope things will be happening next year.”

Savills has opened a new sales centre at the Ipswich Waterfront. The new sales suite will market properties at the Mill and Regatta Quay and commercial units for administrators Baker Tilly which now controls both sites.

Nigel Millar, of Baker Tilly, said: “Although it’s been a lengthy process, we are now in a strong position to regenerate these two projects and breathe new life into the Waterfront that many have dismissed in past.

“These will be two iconic buildings for Ipswich and we’re working hard with our project managers from Savills to ensure a strategy is in place to see the developments finished.”

The buildings are now owned by Ireland’s National Asset Management Authority (NAMA) after the developers of both sites went into administration owing millions of pounds to Irish banks.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer brought officials from NAMA to Ipswich last year, after which visit the administration process was speeded up.

He was pleased to hear work selling property on the Waterfront was being stepped up – but urged developers to ensure work on the wine rack was a priority.

He said: “That is a symbol for the Waterfront and indeed the whole town. I hope the agents work hard to get things going there soon or take the decision to get rid of it as soon as possible.

“If the building can be used it makes sense to get on and complete it, but it would not be good to leave it for many more years waiting for someone to come along and take a risk on developing it.”

The announcem,ent gives fresh hope to those who have claimed the structure is an eyesore. A completed building would show that the Ipswich economy is finally recovering - which is one of the aims of the Star’s I Love Ipswich Campaign.

Would you like to live in the wine rack? Tell us your views.

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