Multi Development UK Ltd has secured department store Debenhams to anchor the £350m Southgate regeneration scheme they are developing in joint venture with Morley Fund Management in the center of Bath. The retailer will trade from 11,600 m² over four trading levels and will be located at the corner of Manvers Street and Dorchester Street in the world heritage site. The store will be Debenhams' first in the city.
Debenhams is taking a 25-year FRI lease of the 125,000 ft² anchor department store, which forms part of the 600,000 ft² Southgate redevelopment scheme in Bath. Department stores are under represented in Bath and the letting to Debenhams means shoppers will have access to one of the country's leading retailers. It also means more jobs for locals, which is good news for the community.
The announcement comes just a week after Morley and Multi signed a joint venture to regenerate the 8-acre site. Southgate is Multi's first UK property investment since the announcement that the company would be de-listing from the Dutch stock exchange to become an investor/developer.
Multi will retain ownership of the completed scheme jointly with Morley. The total investment value of the scheme is estimated at over £350 million.
Phil Monaghan, Property Director at Debenhams, said: "Bath is one of the largest UK centers without a Debenhams department store and after many years of trying to secure representation we are delighted that we will now be able to bring a full range store to the city as part of the Southgate regeneration".
Following the anchor letting, marketing of the other unit shops has gone into full swing. The prestige attached to a presence within the City of Bath and the scheme's unique ability to provide well configured, good sized modern units signifies that the scheme will let well.
Commenting on the news Paul Sargent, Multi UK Managing Director, said: "Securing Debenhams signifies a positive beginning for Multi's leasing strategy for Southgate. We are already experiencing strong demand from retailers who don't have representation in Bath as well as retailers in the city who crave the larger more modern floor space we'll be creating.
Multi is committed to delivering Southgate within the shortest possible time frame, starting on-site in the New Year. We are sensitive to the issues that have already delayed this long-awaited project and will do everything in our power to deliver the scheme before Spring 2011. Together with Morley we will be focused on ensuring that the aspirations the city has for its retail sector will become reality."
Richard Jones, Head of Life Funds at Morley Fund Management, the project's cornerstone investor, commented: "We have been working closely with Bath & North East Somerset Council to find a high-quality developer and investor to deliver a world-class project in one of Europe's most beautiful historic cities. Morley is pleased to be able to invest in local economies in this way and particularly in a scheme that will reflect Bath's historic Georgian architecture.
The leasing to Debenhams is welcome news that adds positive momentum to the project. Multi has the proven ability to construct complex projects in sensitive environments making them an ideal party for both Morley and Bath & North East Somerset Council to work with. We look forward to Multi delivering a world class retail quarter that will provide a new and exciting retail and leisure experience to residents and visitors alike."
Cllr Colin Darracott, Executive member for economic development, said: "I am delighted that Multi Development is partnering Morley to regenerate the Southgate area of Bath, particularly now that Debenhams is to be anchor store. We've all wanted, for a long time, to see the removal of these ugly relics of 1960s and 1970s brutalism, and the replacement with more suitable and more economic buildings and spaces. Southgate is the first, very important stage on the development journey to deliver the vision for Bath."
The regeneration scheme wi