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Friday18 August 2017

Credit crunch threatens Gehry's Hove scheme

Gehry's King Alfred scheme
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Frank Gehry's controversial scheme for the Hove sea front has been thrown into doubt because of the credit crunch.

Karis, the developer of the £290 million scheme to build 750 apartments and a leisure centre, admitted on Tuesday that the economic downturn could scupper the project.

Managing director Josh Aghiros told BD: "At the moment, due to the economic climate as it is, we’re doing a viability study. There’s no conclusion. All options are open.

"With the way house prices are any major development in the country is in this position."

The scheme was granted planning permission on the casting vote of the chairman of the Brighton & Hove Council planning committee in March 2007 after local opposition to the scale of the development.

On Tuesday, Gehry confirmed his involvement with the project was over. In an interview in the Guardian with BD columnist Jonathan Glancey, he said: "Don’t go there. It was a painful experience. I guess I never did understand your planning system and all those interfering government design advisers."

Aghiros commented that the King Alfred project was not the sort of scheme Gehry was used to working on.

"The major projects that Frank Gehry has done have been funded by philanthropists, or institutions," he said. “This is a commercial proposition that needs to stand on its own feet. If it’s viable we’ll proceed.”

Aghiros said a final decision about the future of the project would be made by the end of July.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • At last-the first bit of good news from the frontline of the credit crunch

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  • Let's hope many others will follow suit...

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  • At Easter 2006 The District Valuer's Report pronounced the Frank Gehry/Karis?ING development to be borderline unviable. And that was before the enforced redesign of the perimeter blocks (thought to have been done by Piers Gough - Gehry having pulled away even then). At the October 5, 2006 Policy & Resources meeting, Brighton & Hove city Council agreed to provide enabling finance towards construction of Affordable Block 3 of this development if, after construction tendering and another financial viability test, it proved necessary in order to see the project realised - such was the Labour Administration's starstruck seizing on the name of Frank Gehry. Clutchy, Clutchy. Desperate clinging. Has construction tendering taken place? If so why was it recently denied by both Karis and B&H Council? If that has not yet taken place to give serious working figures to calculate with, then rather more than just the credit crunch is at work here. If ING pull out it will be a rare victory for common sense - a kind of waking up if you like to the truth of how ill-conceived this exercise in developer/Council hubris has been. A reputation wrecking disaster averted. Funny how different so many projects now look in the cold light of day after the giddy nights of excess. I take it as a mark of creative integrity if it is in fact the case, as I read the runes, that Frank Gehry personally backed off and left the practice underlings and Piers Gough to do what they could with the monster.

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