OPINION: Blue eyesore is symbolic of lost opportunity
For me, St George's Central – widely known as the Blue Tower – is a daily reminder of the unfinished business that is Leicester's regeneration programme, writes Business Editor Ian Griffin.
To others, it is a stark example of what happens when a strong-headed private owner clashes with a highly ambitious development masterplan.
Fair enough, not many landlords end up painting a 269ft tower in a prime location between a city's inner ring-road and a major rail link garish blue to thumb their noses at the local council.
But the eyesore created is symbolic of political procrastination when it comes to major planning issues. And, of course, the whole episode of Magnet Property Investments' £33 million redevelopment of the 22-storey building sums up the craziness of the property boom.
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The fact there now seems to be serious interest in taking the tower from its paralysis of having been effectively repossessed by its bank back into developer ownership is good news for the city (see the front page of this supplement).
Business leaders and city council officials will be hoping a deal can be ironed out. How long before a new owner gives the building a repaint remains to be seen.
The surprising thing about my story last week about the demise of Hallam Contracts being blamed on bungling county court officials was the number of people who were not surprised.
Administrators Begbies Traynor said the well-known Oadby building firm collapsed with the loss of 117 jobs and owing £4 million to 300 suppliers and subcontractors because key paperwork had not reached a county court hearing in time.
Begbies said a three-week backlog of unopened mail meant documents designed to defend Hallam against a county court judgement could not be used. The judgement was granted, which began a spiral of events which led to the 90-year-old company going into administration.
The fact many were unsurprised by what happened and had known the same thing to happen before left a sour taste in the mouth. After all, this was a business which had won a prize at a major construction awards just days before.
The fact the HS2 rail link from London to Leeds could cost 6,000 jobs by wrecking plans for a freight depot in Castle Donington is not good news for the local economy. However, the £33 billion project won't be ready until 2032, and when a week is a long time in politics, it should give plenty of time for a compromise to be reached.