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WATERFRONT POWERS – LIVERPOOL’S RESURGENCE

Liverpudlians of a certain vintage will remember the three slim cooling towers of Clarence Dock power station punctuating the city’s skyline just north of the business district.

It seems almost anachronistic, when viewing the city’s gleaming waterfront today, that industry would intrude so closely on the stockbrokers, bankers and journalists of neighbouring Old Hall Street. And it illustrates, were that needed, just how far the city has come since the towers’ demolition in 1994.

One man appreciates this absolutely. Greg Malouf fell in love with Liverpool on family visits from his home in Sydney when others had their heads turned by some place else.

He could see that there was magic in its midst and swore that one day he’d return and bring his skills, contacts and money to help fulfil the potential that he saw.

In the interim years he spent more than thirty years as one of Sydney’s leading property agents and developers and saw the parallels between the two cities and how they could use their waterfronts to drive regeneration.

“I just love the place,” he smiles. “But Liverpool does that to you. It’s the vibe, the culture, themusic, the people, the way the heritage is preserved – this place gets under your skin. There is nowhere like Liverpool and I am totally focused on developing here.”

Malouf has teamed up with experienced local developer and former agent Sam Rowlands to found Romal Capital and the pair are now hard at it developing sites they have acquired within the Liverpool Waters masterplan.

He believes that land owner Peel’s wider masterplan for the waterfront is the right one and will take Liverpool forward to compete with the very best waterfront cities anywhere. “We might not have Sydney’s sunshine,” he smiles, “but we’ve got the cruise liners, the shipping lanes and cracking views of the Welsh mountains,” a nod to the quality of the waterfront sites he has acquired and is now developing out.

The opportunity to create a new neighbourhood particularly excites Malouf, who saw in Sydney what could be achieved and believes the similarities between there and Liverpool are instructive.

“This is about place-making. About creating an ‘all inclusive’ neighbourhood with parks and squares and little corners to dwell over a coffee or a glass of wine whilst looking at the canal barges, cruise liners and ships. It’ll be a unique place with a unique vibe – a bit like Liverpool itself.

“This city was built by people with the bit between their teeth,” he continues. “They went out in ships across the world and built a trading empire the likes of which we have never seen, before or since. What we’re doing pales in comparison but is still, nevertheless, an important part of the city’s wider resurgence,” he says.

He goes on to talk again about Liverpool’s built environment, its heritage in shipping, cotton and commodities and what the Merseybeat era brought and you realise that here’s a student schooled utterly in Liverpool history. He paid attention, for sure, on those family trips back in the day and it seems to be paying off.

“The most flattering thing is when local people buy our apartments in Central Quays and tell us that they love what we are doing. They know quality when they see it and for me their praise is the greatest possible complement.”

So does he now consider himself an honorary Scouser, we ask, a question that sees him pause in momentary reflection.

“Scousers seem to like Aussies as much as we like them so I’ll just say it’s a pleasure to be here and I am grateful it is such a welcoming city. Amazingly, it seems almost everyone here has a family member back in Oz so it’s almost like a home away from home.”

After centuries of emigrants leaving Liverpool’s Pier Head on ships bound for Australia it seems fitting that the traffic is now the other way – and having just as dramatic an impact.

www.romalcapital.co.uk Sales enquiries to Louise Pearce on 07500 830 382

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