Ground has been broken by the contractor at the Tower Street car park to mark the start of the shopping centre’s phase two extension.
Graham’s start on site was enabled by three deals signed in February: the council’s acquisition of the car park, a lease agreement for a new 22,500 sq ft Wilko store and a deal with MMC Cinemas for a nine-screen, 40,500 sq ft multimedia cinema complex.
The phase two extension will also include two restaurants totalling 3,760 sq ft.
Blackpool Council acquired Houndshill for £47.6m in November 2019 as it sought to gain greater control of the town centre’s regeneration. Phase one, a 200,000 sq ft expansion including Debenham’s, New Look and Next, was completed by Modus in 2008.
CBRE is project manager and cost consultant on the phase two project. Enabling works will involve initial utilities diversion and site preparation.
Cllr Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council said, “We are committed to diversifying and modernising the town centre to encourage residents and visitors to choose Blackpool as their main shopping centre of choice.”
Williams added that the new facilities will “complement the existing shops at the Houndshill, boost both day and night time business, and increase the amount of time and money spent in the town centre.”
The overall scheme has been facilitated by £5m of funding from the Government’s Covid-19 Getting Building Fund, following formal approval by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership in October last year. Blackpool Council will fund the balance of the scheme through prudential borrowing.
MMC Cinemas is a start-up independent cinema brand founded by industry veteran John Sullivan, whose career includes time developing brands including Vue and founding UK cinema group The Light.
Sullivan said: “We’re not bringing a ready-made cinema brand to Blackpool; Blackpool will help to shape this flexible arts and community space.
“We’re already in discussions with local interest groups and we want to hear from more. This will be a place where people can come together and make use of this flexible space for education, leisure, shopping, entertainment, workspaces and so much more.”