The Wine Rack development will become a symbol of the recovery

Paul Clement, chief executive, Ipswich Central

Paul Clement, chief executive, Ipswich Central - Credit: Archant

Town Topics with Ipswich Central

Ipswich Waterfront including Wine Rack

Ipswich Waterfront including Wine Rack

Other than for architects and planners, all too often buildings have an entirely functional identity. Where is it? Can I get to it easily? Is it air-conditioned?

What’s the coffee in the machine like?

Occasionally, though, you find buildings that people really want to talk about. Yet there can’t be many towns where a building yet to be completed is talked about so much that it has its own Facebook page.

Enter The Wine Rack in Ipswich.

The Wine Rack - so called because its unclad structure is made up of a series of slots that, from a distance, seem just about right to hold the odd bottle of chardonnay.

Recessionary pressures that caused the developers into receivership brought about the sudden cessation of building work and put a bank in control. And so it has sat for seven years awaiting an upturn and a brave enough developer to take on someone else’s unfinished work.

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Over time, it has become a reminder of the downturn - an icon for the banking crisis in many ways.

Well, now a brave and local developer, John Howard, has acquired the shell and is about to start work on transforming it into multiple apartments. He has the planning permissions, he has the money and he is about to appoint a builder.

The fascinating thing will be to see the same building now emerging as an emblem for the recovery in the town.

An economic recovery that, as the Star reported last week, is accelerating faster than we could have all expected and is on display, not through promises that may never happen, but via solid commitment, real demand and actual building work.

In two years time, those lucky enough to own an apartment in The Wine Rack, will have a story to tell about their building that is unlike practically any other.

The sooner we get new occupiers uncorking a bottle or two to celebrate their moving in the better.

Paul Clement

Ipswich Central