Relaunch of £3m shopping centre put back to Easter
A landmark Victorian shopping arcade will not be open in time for Christmas.
The relaunch of the Silver Arcade, in Silver Street, in the city centre, after a £3m refurbishment has been put back to Easter next year.
Developers had hoped the four-storey grade II-listed building would be open for the festive period but have now revealed a change of plan.
Caroline Simpson-Watkinson, director at Harborough London – an agent for the owners Lukegate, said the original plan had been to try to be open for Christmas. She said: "That was an ambitious plan and there is nothing wrong with that.
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"Originally, we wanted to get the place open to catch the festive trade knowing that not all units would be up and running.
"After talks with potential tenants it became clear they were of the opinion that it would be better to delay the opening until the arcade was full.
"What they want and what we want is to relaunch this wonderful arcade when it is complete and looking its best.
"Nobody connected with this project wants to go at it in a half-hearted way."
The arcade is due to feature a restaurant and bar on the top floor.
Ms Simpson-Watkinson said the available space in the building, which closed in 2001, could provide room for between 12 and 30 shops.
She said: "The units are such that people may want to take more than one and we are flexible enough to accommodate that.
"There are still lots of negotiations going on and we are not sure just how the eventual look of the place will pan out. It is exciting."
Ms Simpson-Watkinson said the owners wanted to model the arcade on the Victorian Quarter, in Leeds, which houses Harvey Nichols.
She said: "The look and feel we are going for is very much upmarket, a place where people can feel spoiled. One idea is to have a uniformed doorperson welcoming customers in and out of the arcade.
"There are plans to have a manned lift taking people up to the fourth floor restaurant in style. We feel there is a gap in the market and this will be a great addition to the shopping experience in Leicester.''
In a bid to help the developers, the city council has brought forward works on Silver Street to avoid a clash with the re-opening of the arcade in Easter.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "The investment involved in bringing this unique shopping experience back into use is very important to us.
"I have decided to bring forward the work on Silver Street so that we can get it finished in time for the opening of the arcade."
The works is part of Connecting Leicester, a £19m project to pedestrianise routes between shopping, leisure and heritage sites.
Martyn Traynor, chief executive of Leicestershire chamber of Commerce, said: "I think this the arcade will perfectly complement the retail offering we have in Leicester."