New Look acquisition next stage in revival of Gloucester’s iconic Argos building
By Matt Hall | 6th May 2021
Revival of the old Argos store at 44-50 Eastgate Street into a vibrant mixed-use development has been boosted by the purchase of the adjacent 'New Look' building.
It is hoped that bringing the two buildings together will create a 77,500 sq ft template, which local developer Michael Chittenden is looking to redevelop into a blend of uses such as residential, offices, retail and leisure.
The first stage of the revival of the iconic Art Deco building has already been completed with the 16,400 sq ft ground floor letting to Jobcentre Plus - one of the largest lettings within the city in the last 12 months.
"Despite a difficult period for retail and the city centre, there are currently some really exciting projects and positive things happening in Gloucester," said the agent for the scheme, Kurt Wyman.
"In common with urban centres up and down the UK, Gloucester has suffered from a change in retail habits which has accelerated during the Covid Pandemic. However, there are some very exciting projects going on in the city which are already creating a buzz."
Mr Chittenden, whose extensive property portfolio includes the Manor by the Lake hotel in Cheltenham, business centres and residential developments, acquired the empty former retail store on the corner of Eastgate Street and Brunswick Road in 2019.
He said: "We see this as an opportunity to do what other cities are doing to bring jobs - and vibrancy - back to the city centres by converting unwanted department stores and large retail units into mixed use developments where people can live, work, shop and enjoy their leisure time.
"One option on the table is to create co-working space, with support services and facilities on hand - such as admin, IT, and call handling - and where tenants will be able to book meeting rooms, videoconferencing suites and 'huddle spaces' by the hour. We are also looking for local enterprises in the leisure and retail sector to be part of the 'offer', reflecting the sort of business centres now popular in places like the US and London.
"In addition, we are exploring the potential of working with a residential developer for at least one of the upper floors. Bringing more people into the city centre to live is a key part of Gloucester's future regeneration."
The five-storey building started life as the Gloucester Co-operative Society, and the face of Joseph Clay, the founder of the Gloucester Cooperative Society, can still be seen on the side of the building. It has had a number of occupiers in recent times, including Argos, and was last used as the Furniture Recycling Project's showroom.
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