ouncil offices sold to "Fragrance" group

IT was built  as a monument to civic pride in the days of Queen Victoria when Liverpool was emerging as the leading seaport of the British Empire.

The Municipal Buildings, seat of Liverpool Corporation, later the council, since the 1860s, is being sold to a company in one of those former British outposts, Singapore.

Mayor Joe Anderson and hundreds of council workers have already made the exodus from Dale Street to a new home in the Cunard Building.

Liverpool was not even a city when the grand looking Municipal Building, with its imposing clock tower, was built. City status did not come until 1880.

The one time Municipal Annexe, built originally as the Liverpool Conservative Club, sits near by and is already a Hilton hotel.

A similar future awaits the Municipal Buildings when a Singapore-based international property developer converts it into a luxury four star hotel and restaurant.

New owners the Fragrance Group Ltd (FGL) has a portfolio of more than 80 projects with overseas development properties including Premier Tower, a skyscraper in Melbourne, Australia.
The Municipal Buildings will be its first acquisition in Europe.

The landmark Grade II listed city centre office, which has unique design features of the Italian and French renaissance opened in 1866 and is to be sold on a 250 year lease.

It was put on the market last October as the city council seeks to find £90 million of savings over the next three years.

As the civic headquarters, around 1,000 staff worked in the building,  but this was reduced in recent years because of government-imposed spending cuts. It was also home to the city council leadership and Mayor Anderson.

Regeneration supremo Malcolm Kennedy said: “The Municipal Building has been a magnificent home for Liverpool City Council since the 1860s but we no longer have the staff numbers to justify retaining it.

“I’m delighted we have a buyer of international repute who is looking to use Liverpool to break into the UK and European hotel market.”

The One-Stop shop is being moved to St John’s Precinct, with the remaining Dale Street staff transferred to council buildings elsewhere.

Over the years the building was modernised, but one improvement left a number of female councillors red faced with embarrassment.

To comply with disability access, toilet doors were fitted that automatically opened. Perhaps because of a mistake in how the doors should have been secure, there were occasions when the doors flew open whilst some women councillors were sat perched on the proverbial civic throne.

Larry Neild