It cost the council £15m to walk away from Modus in Newport. The developer had been planning a £200m retail led scheme in the city centre. Judging by the look on Newport city council's corporate director Sheila Davies' face, it was a tough but very good decision.
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Sheila has been spearheading efforts by the council to make sure it has removed all of the obstacles to private sector investment and it has been spending a lot of its own money to do that (more about that on this blog next week).
Fast forward two years and Queensberry is on board with a revamped £100m scheme for Friar's Walk. Heads of terms have been signed with a cinema operator and two major fashion names are close behind says partner Stuart Harris. There are no names yet but Harris gave a few clues when we caught up with him earlier this week (listen to the podcast below or the full version will be available on EGi shortly). It is also keeping a dialogue going with Marks & Spencer's which announced it was walking away from its city centre store in 2010
in favour of out of town.
Queensberry's new plans for Newport include marginally increasing its leisure offering, although the retail has unsurprisingly shrunk. It will go to the funding market in the latter part of the summer and by June next year hopes to have a building contractor on board. If all that falls into place then doors will open in 2015.
Listen to Stuart explain how he's made big retail work in the current environment, picking up the pieces after Modus, and how he feels about the funding market.