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EXCLUSIVE: Broadway development project signed and sealed
Developer Westfield today announced it has signed legal agreements which guarantee Bradford’s long-awaited new £260 million shopping centre being built.
The company will now unconditionally start construction works on the Broadway site as the completed documents mean it must go ahead.
Major construction is scheduled to start in January and final site preparation works are nearly done. The hope is that the build will take two years and people could be Christmas shopping there in 2015.
The Australian developer has also completed the sale of its interest to retail real estate investment manager Meyer Bergman, which has drawn international investment from Canada.
Westfield’s director of development Duncan Bower said the signing of the legal agreements was hugely significant for the city.
He said: “We’re absolutely thrilled, within Westfield and Meyer Bergman and their funds. Everybody’s working so hard to do all the work behind the scenes that we’ve been talking about for some period of time.
“It’s fantastic news, certainly for us and we feel for Bradford and all of the partners that have been so supportive of this whole process.”
Mr Bower said while the company was delighted, the big festivities would be when the project was finished.
“We are very, very pleased, but it’s the start of the project. We’re at the start of the process, we just need to get on with the job. The big celebrations come upon the completion.
“We’ve gone unconditional in terms of agreements between Westfield, Meyer Bergman and Bradford Council and we have signed up enough retailers which we said we needed in place.”
Work on the site was stalled five years ago due to the economic downturn and some have questioned whether the scheme will get under way.
Mr Bower said: “It’s been quite a difficult process and we’ve shared the frustrations of people in Bradford throughout the global downturn and we would like to thank the people of Bradford for their patience with this.
“We’d like to hope that they are happy that we’re unconditional on this.
“We’d also like to thank Bradford Council, because throughout, from the officers and leadership, they’ve put a monumental effort in to this project helping to confirm this unconditional status.”
Asked if the announcement would stop the doubters, Mr Bower said: “We certainly hope so. This has never happened before. These agreements pave the way for the construction.”
Meyer Bergman acquired the scheme as the initial investment for its second value-add fund, Meyer Bergman European Retail Partners II, which has a strategic focus on defensive prime assets located in city centre shopping destinations across Europe.
The sale of the Bradford site was completed with co-investment from two major Canadian pension funds, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan and AIMCo, on behalf of some its clients.
Together they appointed Westfield to develop, design, construct and lease the project, plus property manage once it is finished.
“This is very substantial international development for Bradford. It’s worth making the point that it’s international investment being attracted into Bradford,” Mr Bower said, adding that a large team at Westfield had worked “incredibly hard” on the project.
It is estimated the scheme will create 1,500 construction and 2,500 new retail jobs and Mr Bower is hopeful that it will be aspirational for the people of Bradford.
He said the company was aware of the impact the scheme could have on existing city shops and the Kirkgate Centre.
“There’s always been a degree of things moving about in any city where there’s new retails development. There’s an over-riding benefit after shops move, new retailers come in. There’s slight differences in footfall in different areas of a city, that always creates opportunities. It’s got to be a massive boost for the city.”
Westfield managing director UK/Europe and New Markets Michael Gutman said: “Westfield is delighted to announce the start of construction having remained steadfastly committed to delivering the Bradford development following cessation of work in 2008 as a result of the global financial crisis.
“Westfield has worked intensively with Bradford Council, the Government and Meyer Bergman to attract new retailers, create new jobs and ensure that this development is built for the city and the people of Bradford.”
The latest development has been enthusiastically welcomed by Bradford Council leader David Green.
Councillor Green said: “This is an important day and marks a very significant step forward for Bradford city centre. Since 2010 we have supported investment in the city centre, including establishing the growth zone, constructing City Park and working with Westfield to ensure this shopping centre becomes a reality.
“Major retailers have now confirmed their strong confidence in Bradford city centre and its potential to become the shopping destination for local people and the wider area.
“The Broadway shopping centre will create many new jobs for Bradford and support the whole city centre and existing businesses by increasing footfall in the city.
“We are working with Westfield to also maximise benefit to local businesses during the construction phase.
“We know there is still a lot to do to take forward the rest of the city centre, as we recognise in the City Plan. We will continue to work with local businesses and investors to strengthen Bradford’s economy.”
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