Reading’s Broad Street Mall has gone on the market with Knight Frank as an investment opportunity.
Acting for Moorgarth and South African REIT Texton, the agent has published details of what it describes as a ‘repurposed 398,000 sq ft mixed use investment opportunity with significant development potential’.
The five-acre site is phase one of the Minster Quarter regeneration scheme, for which Reading Borough Council’s policy committee agreed on Monday, June 14 to seek a development partner.
The mall site includes planning consent for 422 flats in four blocks (including one for affordable homes) along with consent for a 101-room Premier Inn and bar/restaurant next to the shopping centre.
However, the Knight Frank brochure states: “The site offers an excellent opportunity to revisit the Premier Inn plans or introduce an alternative operator to the site. Alternatively, the opportunity exists to explore an apart-hotel concept.”
The scheme also includes 13,850 sq ft of co-working office space at Quadrant House within the centre and 62,400 sq ft of multi-let offices at Fountain House which could be converted to provide further residential.
The brochure states: “Fountain House offers flexibility to either improve the longevity and security of the existing office income streams or a conversion of the building into residential uses through PDR (Permitted Development Rights).
“The existing, linear floorplates, coupled with plentiful natural light, offer excellent conversion potential.”
The new apartments throughout the scheme could be either Build-to-Rent or Built-to-Sell and Knight Frank describes the residential element as offering the largest income component of it in future with the remaining tenant mix highly-diversified between hotel, leisure, retail and office uses.
The mall’s 77,000 sq ft of basement space is, according to the brochure, under-utilised and offers scope for uses such as last mile logistics, data centres, storage, conference space, dark kitchens or additional leisure facilities.
Once the consented residential towers are complete, the brochure states, there are possibilities for further accommodation along the St Mary’s Butts frontage.
Councillors at the Reading Borough Council policy committee meeting on June 14 heard that interest in its section of the Minster Quarter is expected to be high.
But retail director for Hicks Baker, Fiona Brownfoot, told Thames Tap she believes the council should consider buying the mall so the overall Minster Quarter site has fewer owners.
She said: “One of the principal barriers to creating attractive environments, whether that’s to shop, live or play, is fragmentation of ownership – money being the other one.
“It therefore follows that, the ability to create successful mixed-use areas relies upon the control of the required area being in the hands of one owner or organisation.
“In view of the fact that the site of the Broad Street Mall and the adjacent sites of the former civic offices, magistrates’ court, police station and Hexagon are all intrinsically linked, and the success of one relies heavily on the success of another, it makes inordinate sense for one of those principal owners to purchase the other pieces of the jigsaw.”
A video of the proposal can be seen here.
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