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Property Week: http://www.propertyweek.com/in-depth/ma ... 29.article
NewRiver Retail is to meet City of Cardiff Council later this month to discuss plans for a tower on top of the Capitol shopping centre.
Retail asset manager NewRiver has drawn up plans for a 30-storey tower that would accommodate flats, student accommodation and a hotel above the 165,000 sq ft centre on the corner of Queen Street and Charles Street in Cardiff city centre.
NewRiver bought Capitol from the Moorfield Group in January in the knowledge that it was a centre with problems that were only getting worse.
Although the acquisition was part of a three-centre, £92.3m deal, it is believed to have cost only £22m - a price reflective of vacancies on both its two levels.
Capitol’s fate was sealed last year when H&M, the anchor tenant, trading on both levels, chose not to renew its lease. Instead, H&M consolidated its presence in Cardiff in November with its largest UK store, opening a 46,000 sq ft unit in St David’s shopping centre, half a mile west down Queen Street.
“When we bought Capitol, H&M weren’t in occupation,” says Charles Spooner, a NewRiver director.
“In fact, most of the fashion has gone down to the other end of town to St David’s. I’m glad that we have got the level of voids that we have. If the tenants were still in place, we wouldn’t have the same opportunities.”
Austin Reed has left the centre, as has Jaeger, which now relies on sales from a John Lewis concession in St David’s.
Spooner says the east end of Queen Street, which is close to many of the Cardiff University buildings, has a real buzz to it created by the student population.
And as a result, the Capitol centre has become a hub for convenience. Poundworld is three years into a 10-year lease in a shop once occupied by the failed retailer Internacionale, while easyGym occupies part of the upper level.
Next month brings the first anniversary of the reopening of Capitol’s cinema, after the Odeon vacated in 2001. Premiere Cinemas, a US company that operates cinemas in shopping centres, charges only £4 a ticket. This, says Spooner, is having an effect on Cardiff’s other cinemas.
Generally, though, Capitol has been unlucky with its tenants since Guardian Royal Exchange Properties developed and opened it in 1990. An original tenant, Virgin Megastore, later to be renamed Zavvi, the music retailer, ceased trading in 2009.
When NewRiver submits its planning application in the autumn, it will also include plans for a new entrance and a proposal to turn many of the shops that are currently empty into restaurants.