Cheshire West and Chester Council has announced that it has signed House of Fraser and a 4* Crowne Plaza to Chester Northgate — one of the most significant city-centre regeneration projects and the biggest retail-led development in the North-west in the last decade.
House of Fraser, the UK and Ireland’s premium department store brand, has signed an agreement to anchor the development. The Group plans to open a new 100,000ft2 store, offering customers an exceptional shopping environment as well as attracting desirable brands and fashion labels to the region. The new store is being designed to a high specification and will accommodate a multichannel, modern experience-led retail offering, which will include the creation of a rooftop restaurant with views over Chester’s historic racecourse and the Welsh hills.
An affiliate of MCAP Global Finance has also signed an agreement to open a new 167-bed 4* Crowne Plaza hotel, with a spa, and a 600-capacity conference facility, which will be the biggest in the city. MCAP Global Finance, a UK subsidiary of New York-based investment adviser Marathon Asset Management LP, through its affiliated companies, owns a substantial UK hotel real estate portfolio, including a number of IHG-branded properties amongst other recognised international brands.
The regeneration of the city centre will provide 70 stores, cafes and restaurants, as well as a new cultural centre, 70 homes, hotel & conference centre, six-screen Picturehouse cinema and the city’s largest car park. On completion, Chester Northgate will not only revitalise the city’s evening economy, it will also offer a full suite of experiences to locals and Chester’s millions of yearly visitors, drawing more visitors and shoppers into Chester. Construction of the development will commence in late 2018, with phased completions leading up to late 2021.
The council has already committed £100m into the redevelopment of the city centre, including the creation of a new 850-seat theatre, which forms part of a new cultural centre and is set to open in the Spring, as well as the relocation of the bus station, which is set to open in March.
Councillor Samantha Dixon, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “I am delighted that we have secured House of Fraser for a major new store in the crucial Chester Northgate development and at the same time, signed a deal with the owners of the existing Crowne Plaza to relocate them on site into a brand new four-star hotel, conference centre and spa, much improving the overall offer of the city.
“Being able to attract brands like House of Fraser, Picturehouse and Crowne Plaza is a measure of the appeal of Chester Northgate to other occupiers and investors and reinforces our ambition to return Chester to its rightful place as a leading shopping and leisure destination.
“We believe Chester Northgate to be one of the UK’s biggest emerging retail-led city centre developments. The project shows that Cheshire West and Chester Council is pioneering innovative new ways of driving growth and underlines our consistent commitment to steering the big projects that will transform Chester city centre.”
Councillor Stuart Parker, Shadow Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing for Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The announcements that House of Fraser and Crowne Plaza have committed to the Northgate development are fantastic news for Chester and the wider borough.
“We are really excited to be bringing the sort of flagship development that Chester deserves to ensure it remains one the most vibrant places in the North West to live, work and visit. These announcements mark a milestone in the delivery of Northgate and are testament to the success of the Council’s cross-party approach to delivering this truly transformational project.”
Frank Slevin, Executive Chairman of House of Fraser, said: “We are very pleased to announce that we have signed an agreement to open an anchor store at Chester Northgate. Chester is an exciting location for us, being at the centre of a thriving regional economy. With its modern design, Chester Northgate will rejuvenate Chester city centre attracting more visitors and creating a dynamic retail environment. I look forward to the store opening in 2021.”
Chester Northgate is being developed by Cheshire West and Chester Council, assisted by development manager Rivington Land.
David Lewis, Chief Executive of Rivington Land, said: “With the signings of House of Fraser and Crowne Plaza, following on the back of planning permission granted last year and the announcement of the new six-screen cinema, we are reaching an exciting time for the Chester Northgate development. The commitment from major brands serves as recognition of the huge potential of a revitalised Chester city-centre.
“We are now in the process of agreeing terms with other major retailer and leisure operators, who have also recognised the innovative approach of Cheshire West and Chester Council in driving this scheme forward. Chester Northgate has been designed to meet the future requirements of national, regional and local retail and leisure occupiers and will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of Chester.”
JLL is the leasing agent acting for Chester Northgate; Strutt & Parker is the retained investment agent.