LIVERPOOL Festival Gardens held an invitation-only event today to mark the completion of work on the much-delayed site.
Local residents were given a sneak preview of the revamped 90-acre Otterspool site ahead of its full public opening, due in the next few weeks.
A £4.5m restoration project has been carried out at the former venue of the 1984 International Garden Festival, after many years of neglect and decay.
But progress has been painfully slow because of a series of crises, including the collapse of both the main contractor, Mayfield Construction, and the firm tasked with managing the site, Groundwork Merseyside.
This set back the original opening date by more than a year.
Owners Langtree are now holding a series of “ramp-up” events to mark the completion of work and prepare the site for full public use.
The first and largest of these was an open day for residents living near to the Riverside Drive site, culminating in a firework display.
Liverpool council leader Joe Anderson joined Langtree Development Director Stephen Barnes to welcome guests to today’s event.
Mr Barnes said: “It’s been a long road, with plenty of potholes along the way, but we are pleased and proud to say that we have now completed work on Festival Gardens.
“We felt it was important to mark the occasion properly and thank our neighbours for their consistent support and patience throughout the project. Each and every guest seemed genuinely impressed with what we’ve achieved, which is crucial as this park will be their legacy.
“This event was also essential to help us stress-test our work and ensure the park is robust enough for the people of the city to use for years to come.
“We have appointed the Land Trust to manage the site for us and there will be various other small events in the coming weeks to soft test the facilities before we fully open the park.
“We should see Festival Gardens open to the public in a matter of weeks.”
Originally conceived as the centrepiece of Liverpool’s early regeneration efforts, the site was home to the International Garden Festival for five months in 1984, but a series of failed ownership changes saw it fall into significant disrepair during the following 27 years.
The second phase of the project will see Langtree creating up to 1,374 new homes on 25 acres in the park on the area of the former Festival Hall dome.