Struggling St David’s Shopping Centre in Swansea has been sold by Threadneedle, an asset management group, to the City and County of Swansea and Welsh government, as the region’s regeneration scheme continues apace.
A statement today from real estate firm DTZ, which advised on the transaction, indicates that the local council will work alongside development partner and property firm Hammerson to reduce the size of the centre and add new parking facilities to the site.
Last year, South Wales Chamber of Commerce warned that the success of the larger shopping centre of the same name in the Welsh capital Cardiff was pulling shoppers away from Swansea, and it is clear the city’s main retail hub has suffered.
With more empty retail units than full ones, work to demolish the 30-year-old two-storey centre is set to start in March this year.
Chris Holley, Swansea Council Leader, said: “We’re doing all we can to improve Swansea city centre and this investment alongside the Welsh government will help boost the area and safeguard jobs during difficult economic times.
“This is a hugely important site in the city centre, but it is largely empty and has become detrimental to our overall aim of improving retail in the city centre.
“It’s clear that the city centre can’t be regenerated without public sector intervention and purchasing this site gives us the opportunity to work with our development partner, Hammerson, to put in place a plan to redevelop the site and regenerate the city centre.
The ultimate outcome for the shopping complex is still unclear, but the local council’s takeover of the rundown site indicates that there are plans to refresh Swansea’s retail offering by developing the area in which St David’s resides.
Holley added: “In the shorter-term, and until market conditions improve, we’ll demolish part of the site and construct a car park that will meet the needs of city centre traders and shoppers.”
Another problem faced by town centre shopping developments in the UK is the rising popularity of retail parks nationwide, and this week it emerged that Phoenix Retail Park in Swansea is apparently benefiting from investment made by it owners in 2011.
In a statement released yesterday, Barberry Developments suggested that retail tenants at the site such as Home Bargains, B&M and Poundworld all experienced a successful festive period.
Martyn Cartwright, Director of Barberry, said: “We are delighted that the Phoenix Retail Park occupants have enjoyed such a successful period of activity. The car park has been noticeably full since the refurbishment.
“We are now progressing with the construction of an additional and separate main customer access from the principal Fendrod Way frontage, which will provide improved connectivity to the adjoining Tesco Extra.”