India Building has been open to the general public since the property was completed in 1932.
The original India Buildings straddled the former Chorley Street. Before the design was approved, Liverpool Corporation stipulated that an arcade of shops should run through the centre of the building on the route of the street and that this should always be accessible to the general public via the opening hours of the building.
However, there is now great risk of the general public being prohibited from entering India Building at all. There may be no Holt’s Arcade, nor there may be a functioning General Post Office. This website has been set up to highlight this plight and we believe that 2016 may be the last year where anyone can walk in to the building.
India Building was given less than pleasing publicity in 2004 when Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams as the Pacific Group bought India Buildings from offshore company Elan Investments. Both operated out of their office as the Pacific Group of Companies and defrauded AIB by using forged or false documents or claims in order to obtain substantial loans to finance the purchase of what were mostly commercial properties.
The £45m purchase – then the city’s biggest-ever property transaction – was financed by Allied Irish.
Such was the secrecy which surrounded the deal that rumours swirled around India Buildings that he had won it in a card game, according to antiques dealer Wayne Colquhoun, who has a shop in the ground floor.
When Kallakis took over the running of India Buildings 3,250 people worked in the property. Today that number stands at around 400.
A source close to the court case said Kallakis’ company Atlas Management had “grossly mismanaged” the building, leading to the drop in the number of tenants. In 2008 tenants were left without lifts for about a fortnight after a row between Atlas and an electricity company.
In 2009 India Buildings was then sold to current Irish owner Green Property as part of a sale of “distressed” Allied Irish assets. However in 2015, just 6 years after Green Property, the building was once again up for sale.
At the start of 2016, Green Property sold the grade two-listed India Buildings in Liverpool’s Water Street to Shelborn Asset Management, on behalf of overseas clients, for £17m.
Researching Shelborn Asset Management Ltd, the nature of the business is listed as ‘Other letting and operating of own or leased real estate’. It is a private limited company with the registered address of London NW9. The business has two current officers listed who are both directors. London based Shelborn has had previous successful investments in the Liverpool office market in the past. It acquired, re-furbished and sold Imperial Court on Exchange Street East and Reliance House on Water Street.
However, this gives no indication of the real owners of India Buildings. Who are they, and why do they not wish to be named or associated with the building they have purchased?
Apart from knowing it is “overseas clients” we don’t know, nor do we know their intentions.
At the present time, India Building is open to the general public, but it has been rumoured that the overseas clients are looking to sell the property again and have approached private businesses to tender for the building.
If a private business is to put in a winning tender to this building, then it could see the building locked down to the general public for security reasons. There will be no public access through Holt’s Arcade nor will there be a General Post Office running in the corner of the building. At the present time, the public can access the Post Office and view the splendour of Holt’s Arcade and its shops, however can we afford to have one of Liverpool’s most splendid buildings locked down from public access?
We believe that India Building has had a varied past in the past few years and that selling the building on again so soon has to raise questions. Why have the overseas bidders who have not been named not given Liverpool their plans for the building? Are they looking to fill the offices back up from 20% to 80% trade and beyond? Why are the owners looking to sell the building on so quickly?
The people of Liverpool have a right to know what is happening with their buildings. As something as much loved as India Building, this should not turn in to another quick sale for a quick profit to the next company to be sold on in due course again, but sold to a company/developer who can transform the building in to a stunning and grand building that it once was and showcase the building to Liverpool again.
Are the overseas biddings willing to show their plans? Who are they? Why have they not been named and why are they looking to sell the property again so soon?
India Buildings is once again at risk as much as it was in World War 2.