By Matt Fortune
The Stadium, Highbury Square is on time and on budget.
Those were the words from Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman on Thursday as he, Arsène Wenger and other Club directors performed the traditional topping-out ceremony. They were joined on stage by representatives from Sir Robert McAlpine, the project contractors, and the former Mayor of Islington
In Wenger's first return to the Highbury site since Arsenal moved to Emirates Stadium, the Frenchman applied the finishing touches of cement to the roof of what was the East Stand.
After 93 years as a football stadium, Highbury is now being converted into over 700 high-specification studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments and penthouses.
The development has more than a passing resemblance to Highbury Stadium as the apartments will be constructed around the four sides of the old pitch - which will be turned into an attractive garden area. Construction will be completed by the summer of 2009, although the first apartments will be ready for occupation later this year.
As part of the traditional ceremony an evergreen bough was nailed to the stage and a 'noggin of ale' was drunk.
"I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd and all the project team for what has been achieved to date in the building of Highbury Square," said Edelman.
"The development is really taking shape now and we are all really looking forward to the apartments being fully completed in summer 2009. Sales are going very well, but we still have limited number of apartments available."
Wenger added: "This is my first visit back to Highbury since we played our last match here. The development looks very impressive and the construction team have done a very good job. The people who will be living here are very lucky."
For further information on the limited available apartments can be found on www.thestadium-highbury.com or by calling 0845 262 6000.
Looking across to the West Stand
The North Bank looks different...
...and so does the Clock End
A piper leads the guests in
Keith Edelman addresses the crowd
Arsène Wenger says a few words
The boss scoops in the cement...
...and applies the finishing touches
Evergreen bough is nailed to platform
The guests consume the ale
- To buy official Arsenal pictures visit www.ArsenalPics.com.