‘House of Fraser closure could be an opportunity’

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 6 Jul 2018

THE closure of Hull’s House of Fraser store could present an opportunity for the creative use of an iconic site, a leading commercial property professional has said.

Paul White, agency director at Garness Jones chartered surveyors, said the size and location of the landmark building at the corner of Jameson Street and Ferensway offers a range of options to continue the transformation of the city centre.

More than 200 jobs will be axed in Hull when the department store closes its doors early next year.

Mr White said: “It’s a big building and one of the most significant retail sites in the city centre. 

“For House of Fraser, that became a challenge too far, but the closure will bring the opportunity to do something different.

“It is important to remember that the decision by House of Fraser to pull out is not a reflection on the appeal of Hull. 

“The company’s problems have forced it  to shut 31 of its larger stores around the country, whereas Hull has seen increased activity and confidence in the past couple of years.”

House of Fraser’s creditors last week approved the company’s plan to close 31 of its 59 stores next year. 

This week, preparation work will begin for the demolition of the nearby Edwin Davis and BHS buildings to clear the way for the Albion Street development. 

Mr White said the future of the city centre hinges on bringing variety, as demonstrated by other developments in Hull and further afield.

He said: “For some time, the trends for city centres have been about moving away from traditional retail and converting properties for new uses which complement each other and drive sustainable development.

“We’ve completed a number of property transactions during the past two years, which have been about changing the use of buildings from offices to residential, encouraging more people to live in the city centre and provide a customer base for the commercial businesses.

“There are many examples within St Stephen’s and Princes Quay of retail space being turned over for leisure, use such as tenpin bowling and trampolining. 

“Albion Street will combine retail, leisure and residential, and we are looking at some exciting new leisure projects elsewhere in the city centre.”

With good access on all sides for customers, staff and deliveries, Mr White said the House of Fraser building is very versatile.

He said: “Ultimately, what happens next is down to the owners. 

“Hull City Council will also have an important part to play and has shown with other developments that it is in tune with the need to build on the improvements of recent years and continue to work towards creating an environment that will attract people into the city centre.”

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