Sun Sets On Cala Eclipse

The long running will-they-wont-they saga of Cala Eclipse in Sheffield has come to an end with the quiet return of deposits to investors in the post last week and not as much as a wimper from the seriously embarrassed developer.

The 22 floor residential tower designed by architects Broadway Malyan was set to stand on St Mary's Gate, part of the planned 'high rise alley' Sheffield council had hoped to realise as their way of showing the city wasn't that far behind rival Leeds in the development stakes.

Other proposals in the area failed to even get as far as planning approval thanks to the cold feet of developers looking to the increasing labour costs, the fact that the taller you build the more it costs, and relatively low house prices compared to the more in demand Leeds and Manchester. This economic effect cut into margins with levels of only a predicted 3% profit on the planned Chesham House, but developer Cala pressed on with their tower regardless.

It was marketed and indeed sold out with deposits being taken from investors in 2004 but work never actually began on site. Investors were either reassured with the standard reply that it would be going ahead and work on site would begin "soon" or alternatively their inquiries were ignored.

Sources in Sheffield meanwhile started muttering in early 2005 that the project had been terminated and Cala had quietly put up the land for sale. They were meanwhile still insisting to investors it would still go ahead as late as a couple of weeks ago and indeed our own comments on the viability of the project lately earned the ire of some more civically proud people from Sheffield who had received the same assurances from the developer.

Despite the claims otherwise, Cala returned the deposits last week without as much as a statement on the future of the project hoping that the whole issue would just go away.

We did try to talk to Cala about the cancellation of the scheme, which to our knowledge has the dubious distinction of being the U.Ks first 20 floor plus apartment block to take deposits and then return them, although rather tellingly their listed p.r information on Yorkshire was out of date. Eventually we tracked down the details of the Cala p.r for Yorkshire but failed to get a response, a move that is hardly likely to assure future investors their money they can have confidence in Cala developments.

The news that such buildings aren't viable in Sheffield is bound to raise questions about whether Cala had priced their units too low to start with and had their optimistic calculations messed up or if such projects are viable in Sheffield at all thanks to the relatively low prices they can command on the market and the ever increasing amounts it costs to build them as the demand from other cities pushes construction wages ever higher in a what is a limited work-force.

Either way, as the likes of Liverpool and Leeds are frantically building towers, Sheffield is still looking enviously waiting for something over 20 floors to start. All eyes will now be looking towards Furnival Gate and Broad Street to see if the similarly sized projects can progress past the drawing board and into actual reality.

As an update, we might not have heard a word from Cala but there's been no shortage of response from people who put their money up for apartments in Eclipse. Most of the comments on Cala are unprintable with some real anger going on but here's a more reasoned one -

"At the time I can admit I was more than off at their complete inability to talk honestly when they knew they had a large slab of cash from me in their back pockets... I now have the cash back after mulling over whether to leave it there on the far reaching off chance that they would do anything productive at all to get the scheme off the ground."

Article Related buildings:

Eclipse

Eclipse
Broad Street Block 1

Broad Street Block 1
23 Furnival Gate

23 Furnival Gate