Three more major high street names are all set to sign to take space at Newport’s Friars Walk retail development in the city centre.
The retailers, who cannot be revealed due to client confidentiality, will be taking 45,000 sq ft of space, taking the total pre-let to more than 50 per cent of the space available. Debenhams is set to be the anchor store and Next, Top Shop, Cineworld, Nandos and Cosmo are among the businesses which have already committed to the £90m retail and leisure scheme.
Paul Sargent, of developers Queensberry Real Estate, told Business Argus that once the three had signed contracts, their names would be revealed but he said they were all well-known high street names.
He also revealed that Queensberry moved on to the development site in mid-February to start development work.
At the moment they were working alongside Cuddy, which was the firm employed by Newport City Council to carry out the first phase of the demolition of the former Capitol carpark and surrounding buildings.
Queensberry has appointed Bowmer and Kirkland, which is based in Belper, Derbyshire, as the preferred contractor to carry out the building work on the project.
Mr Sargent said: “We got on site on February 17 and on that date we were granted a 250-year lease for the ground. Bowmer and Kirkland are on site and are setting up offices and moving in equipment as we speak. Cuddy are still on site but we’re there as well so we can make the most of our time. We are still on schedule for Friars Walk to be open in 21 months in November 2015.”
He said Queensberry had also set up an office in Newport city centre, which currently was home to two members of staff, including the development manager who was involved in the retail centre in Bath built by Queensberry.
Newport City Council has agreed to lend Queensberry £90mto make sure the scheme goes ahead.
Haydn Thomas, of Newport-based Hutchings and Thomas Chartered Surveyors, said: “At long last this is a bit of tangible good news which we can all celebrate. The fact that demolition is nearing the end and the contractors are on site now dispels any feeling of false dawns and the will they, won’t they over the Friars Walk scheme - it’s really happening this time.
“This positive news, linked with recent upturn in the economic forecast for the country and the very welcome jobs figures, gives solid and genuine reasons for belief in the success of this privately-led city centre scheme
“This will also give other potential occupiers, who have perhaps been lingering on the sidelines waiting to see what would happen, the confidence to now ride the wave and stake their claim for a piece of the action.”
Mr Thomas revealed that the knock-on effects of the scheme are already being registered.
“We are currently working with clients to develop a scheme for the refurbishment of a section of Upper Dock Street, in the city centre, for a part-retail and part-residential scheme. The catalyst for his project can be laid fairly and squarely on the confidence created by the progression of the Friars Walk scheme.
“The proposed scheme has the potential not just to bring six refurbished retail units to the bus station end of Upper Dock Street but also the creation of some 20 plus modern, loft-style residential units to bring people into the centre of the city and help to create a new, 24 hour dynamic for Newport.”