Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Who's Building What

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Who's Building What

Article excerpt

Byline: By Ron Taylor

Gleeson's workforce may be a tad leaner entering March but there's no shortage of potential projects in the pipeline for its Balliol Business Park, Newcastle office.

Like many a construction job these days, over-budget hurdles have to be vaulted before the first spades can be dug.

However, Geoff Gaskell's guarded clips (a trait given to all estimators wary of commenting too positively before the contract document ink is dry) belie the senior staff man's optimism at the likelihood of tender success.

"It's looking quite hopeful," said Mr Gaskell of the pounds 4m, six-storey Merchant Quays development of 43 apartments near The Copthorne, Newcastle.

"They're talking to us." Another pseudonym for "it's in the bag". That's how Gaskell succinctly described his employer's chances of landing a contract to alter and refurbish Sunderland's Empire Theatre.

Here London-based project managers Warwick Avenue link with Sunderland City Council architectural staff, structural consultants Babtie Group, Manchester services designers J Fletcher Engineers and Newcastle surveyors Boyden & Co.

The pounds 4m-plus scheme envisages a new stage, floor, flying system, lift and stair as well as an enlargement of the orchestra pit and roof extension to the stage fly tower.

Bearing in mind both the Merchant Quays and Empire Theatre are starting within weeks rather than months, Gleeson's workload could suddenly escalate - especially in view of Mr Gaskell's throwaway shot on the forthcoming pounds 20m Boldon Village Learning Centre.

"It's still ongoing," he said. "We're going down the PFI route and Gleeson is preferred bidder."

Not so reticent is Syncro's estimator Anthony Wakefield who readily reels off a shopping list that the Co-operative Group's construction arm has bagged recently.

Building of a new Benfield Motors' VW showroom and workshop at The Fossway, Newcastle (architects Browne Smith Baker have the design commission to the pounds 880,000 project); construction of a pounds 1m, three- storey office block at City West; Newcastle and South Tyneside Council's re-roofing jobs at Cleveland Court, Halstead Place and Hedley Close plus alterations to the authority's Simonside and Hudson Road Primary Schools are all progressing. …

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