Commercial Property Blog
All posts from: October 2008
I had a dawn bus tour of Swansea on 23 October.
It was too cloudy for a blinding sunlight to rise from the bay.
But Swansea at dawn stands up to comparison with any other UK city.
The bus collected me from the Dragon Hotel, whipped down to the Marriott at the Maritime Quarter and finally to Morgans Hotel, the conversion of the old port authority building.
The five-star hotel was the venue for christening parties by Swansea ex-pat Catherine Zeta-Jones.
I wanted to peer in to see the clever conversion.
Unfortunately, by the time we reached Morgans, the bus driver hardly bothered to stop.
His brief was to wait for five minutes at Swansea’s five top hotels to collect delegates for the WalesRegeneration Summit and to drive them the two miles to the summit Liberty Stadium.
He arrived at my hotel at 7.25 am with no passengers having called at the Premier Inn.
‘I expect they’re all having a lie-in,’ he said generously. ‘They’re waiting for my second run.’
We waited in silence while a disc jockey on the radio discussed the life and bad times of Kerry Katona.
Half an hour later, I arrived at Liberty Stadium the only passenger in a 50-seater coach.
I have no idea whether the coach was more popular an hour later.
Somehow, 300 delegates made their way to Swansea.
As with all conference these days, there were plenty of green statistics.
The irony of the coach was not lost on me.
How much had my shapely carbon footprint been elongated by being the only passenger on a 50-seater coach?
I am sure the Welsh Assembly Government, the organisers of the summit, has all its green credentials in place, turning off lights and outlawing standby buttons.
But before organising another shuttle bus at taxpayers’ expense, it should check with delegates to make sure they are green enough to travel by coach.
Today propertyweek.com is celebrating another award nomination - this time Best Website in the IBP Awards 2008.
That follows our recent nomination in the BSME awars for best business website.
It shows we are heading in the right direction - although we know there is a long way to go.
In fact unlike most journeys this one has no end - that's got to be the thing about the web.
You can keep driving forward but you will never get to the edge because the edge keeps moving.
Every week i hear about or come across some new software - or hardware - which is showing yet another potential direction the web could take. I love it.
The constant excitement.
My favourite of recent times has to be Qik.com if you have a compatible mobile phone you can stream live video from your phone to the web - that's right.
Not from the web to your phone like everyone is tryiong to do but the other way. You can be out on the street and see something exciting happening and you can broadcast live video from where you are standing to the www
it's amazing - although so far all i've managed to record is some footage of my football injury (broken nose), and a few shots of my desk at work - oh and one of me after a few beers in my kitchen trying to impress mates in the living room who were watching the live broadcast...of my kitchen.
Surely i will shoot that elusive money-making video footage soon.
anyone got any other great new uses for the web - or just great new websites?
Okay, so it took me a while to edit - largely because i've never had any Premier Elements training - but the video from last Thursday's IAS Awards is on the site.
You can see it here
I'm actually almost proud of it - although there is no doubt a lot of room for improvement and one day i will be acutely embarrassed by it, no doubt - but i think considering i had one camera, one mic, no editing training and a day job to do - it ain't half bad.
We normally pay thousands of pounds to have these post-event videos produced - admittedly more professionally - but i think with a little editing training and some more equipment i could do a passable job.
And that is the great thing abou the web - it's ideal for people who like 'having a go'.
What do you reckon? Be kind....please.
Tomorrow I'm going to be videoing the Industrial Agents Society and Property Week Awards at the Hilton in Park Lane...and i'm scared.
You will be able to log on to the site soon and see how i managed but right now i'm hastily scanning video editing tutorials online and borrowing lighting equipment - the bowels of the Hilton were modelled on an underground network of caves carved into limestone by millions of years of water erosion - well i think that's what they were modelled on!
I'm using Adobe Premier Elements
to edit the video and our trusty Sony AE1 to shoot.
I'm getting better with Elements and i enjoy editing but it's not easy.
keep an eye out for the results :)
Okay, this is not going to be as much of a problem for everyone as it is for me but have you ever tried to send anything bigger than a holiday snap over the internet to someone, somewhere else?
Anyone got any ideas on how to do it?
We've all heard of You Send IT and there are various others out there like Senduit and even sendbigfiles.com and a few months ago MSN offered me 5GB of space on their Spaces servers - lovely!
The good news is they all claim to be FREE!!!
The bad news is they don't appear to work - unless you are willing to pay.
I was trying to send a video i had shot of a Property Week European Awards winner who couldn't go to Munich to pick up his award in person.
Mr Peter Vernon, chief exec of Grosvenor UK & Ireland, kindly allowed me to record his acceptance speech at his office on Grosvenor Street and our AV Team in Germany were on stand-by to receive the footage.
After i had hastily edited it and saved it out as an AVI (which meant it was going to be large ) i looked for ways to send it to Germany - or in real life i was looking for a place on the internet which would allow me the server space to save my file and allow my colleague Matt Papworth to download it in Munich and play it at dinner.
Not hard you may think. You'd be wrong.
After trying various file share sites with my -hardly massive 160MB file - i found that none of them wanted to accept it. Prize for most infuriating goes to Sendbigfiles.com who made me wait an hour and 45 minutes before giving me an error message which read 'An unknown error has occured'. Yeah, my error in using your site i reckon.
Even the usually reliable MSN Spaces and Senduit were both having none of it.
in the end i had to have the file added to the root folders of the website! Then hastily removed once it had been downloaded.
Anyone got any answers?? I might even offer a prize for the best solution.
'Always approach the opening day of a shopping centre like an agnostic regards Easter.'
I adopted that attitude twice at the opening of Highcross in Leicester on 4th September and Cabot Circus in Bristol on 25th September.
Don’t buy into the miracle of a wonderful building, rising out of urban dereliction, before peering into the empty shops that the new shopping centre has caused.
I walked up Broadmead, Bristol, counting the cost of Cabot Circus.
It was dawn, and no shop, new or old was yet open. As I scribbled: ‘New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Burtons – relocating – H&M trading both,’ I was interrupted by the ebullient embrace of John Richards, chief executive of Hammerson, developer with Land Securities, of Cabot Circus.
He was walking away from his creation, as I was walking towards it.
‘I’m going back to change,’ he said.
‘Into a clown?’ I asked cheekily, knowing that the opening cerebrations were to have a circus theme.
‘Into a tie,’ he replied, adding that when you do a very early BBC Radio Four broadcast, you grab the first clothes available. Now, he needed a tie for the rest of the day’s festivities that would run until the early hours.
It was his third shopping centre opening that month; Leicester, near Paris and now Bristol.
An hour later he was addressing civic and other dignitaries in the Friends Meeting House now incorporated into Cabot Circus as a restaurant, Brasserie Blanc.
Those in property at the Brasserie brunch ridiculed the naïveté of that morning’s radio and television interviewers’ questions to Hammerson and Land Securities bosses. The questions generally ran: ‘Why would you open a shopping centre in an economy like this?’
Didn’t these people understand……
All the speakers repeated the mantra of the 4,000 jobs that Cabot Circus had created. Then everyone congratulated one another on having 99 of 140 open in time for the big day. More than 90% was let.
It was time to walk from the brasserie across Penn Street to the new part of the development. The opening did not take place until the unusually late time of midday to give Bristol’s office workers a chance to join the throng.
We VIPs took up our positions outside the upper level entrance of House of Fraser and drank flutes of pink champagne.
Slowly, the barriers to the three street level entrances rolled back.
A tide of respectful humanity moved slowly along the three covered malls of Concorde Street, George White Street and Brigstow Street. These human tributaries converged at The Circus, below our vantage point.
The people could not have walked with more reverence if they had been in a cathedral. It’s hard not to be a convert to their retail beliefs when you are having an ‘Eva Peron’ moment, and they are waving from below.
Then acrobats performed barefoot on top of the glass roof and trapeze artists swung below them. It was difficult to sustain the awe.
Shopping started, and the real trick was to spot how many of the tens of thousands who had come, had a carrier bag from a newly opened shop.
My guess is one in 20. Everyone insisted the first day was not about shopping but discovering. This new place of worship will catch on quickly, if the economy permits.