Merseyway adds another tenant as overhaul gathers pace

The shopping centre has added virtual reality centre X-Gen VR as Stockport Council progresses its regeneration of the area in a bid to attract more tenants.

Set to open on Deanery Way in June, the 2,300 sq ft virtual reality gaming centre includes a VR arcade along with private rooms, where visitors can pay an entry fee for 15, 30, and 60-minute sessions.

It is the latest tenant to join the shopping centre following Tessuti, which opened in a 5,000 sq ft unit before Christmas. Other tenants, including Thorntons, EE, WH Smith, and TUi have also committed to lease renewals in recent months.

Although there have been a number of high-profile store closures since the council bought the centre out of administration in April 2017, including BHS, Marks & Spencer, New Look, and Next, Stockpot has set out a plan to revitalise the centre with a series of interventions.

These include the redevelopment of the former Next block which forms a prominent part of the shopping centre, which will be split into four units, while last month, the council agreed to progress with its purchase of the former BHS store.

Stockport first revealed it was looking to buy the BHS around six months ago and entered into an exclusivity agreement with the building’s owner in November last year.

This was due to expire in February but the council negotiated an extension of four months to allow it to sign off the purchase, and to potentially secure pre-lets.

The ownership includes the former BHS store, which is now let to Poundland; 18-20 Merseyway, let to Optical Express; and the freehold of 14-16 Merseyway, where the council already has the leasehold.

The council also signed off proposals to buy another as-yet-unnamed building around the shopping centre late last month. Other interventions include the installation of a new access core, which will allow direct access from the centre’s car park into Adlington Walk; the council said this would have a knock-on effect of improving access to the centre from Chestergate, Great Underbank, and the old town.

CBRE is the asset manager for Merseyway.

Gareth Mee, founder of X-Gen VR said: “I’m really happy to be opening my first VR Centre here in my home town of Stockport. I grew up here, love our town, and have always believed that with the size and position of Stockport our town centre has massive potential which has been proven by the success of the revamped market area and Redrock.

“Thanks to Stockport Council’s investment, frequent events and the hard work of local entrepreneurs these areas are now thriving and I’m very much looking forward to being part of a new wave of businesses and investment at Merseyway.”

Caroline Simpson, corporate director of place at Stockport Council, said: “The opening of X-Gen VR is exciting news for the town centre and offers visitors something a little bit different. It will also complement the recently opened Produce Hall and the ever popular Redrock, giving visitors even more reason to come to Stockport.

“It’s always great when new businesses open but the fact that Gareth has such passion for the area he grew up in and faith in our town centre makes it even more special, and I wish him well with his new venture.”

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