Boxpark, the pop-up retail centre built from disused shipping containers, will open alongside East Croydon Station with up to 80 shops, fashionable boutiques and cafes next summer, it was confirmed this morning. Work is to begin immediately, and around 200 jobs are to be created on the site, according to a statement issued on behalf of Croydon Council.
Inside Croydon was first to report the plans last month, ahead of the council’s official announcement, which has come during the MIPIM developers’ “junket” (© Croydon council leader Tony Newman) in the south of France this week.
The Boxpark development means that the Croydon Visitor Centre and electronics gadget store alongside it, which both occupy part of the Ruskin Square site owned by Stanhope and Schroder, will be closed within the next few weeks.
Significantly, Boxpark Croydon will open at least three years before Westfield and Hammerson will be able to unveil their £1 billion supermall redevelopment in central Croydon. Many of the current Whitgift Centre traders have been told that their businesses will have to close or move out during the Hammersfield construction works.
Boxpark opened its first pop-up mall in trend-setting Shoreditch in 2011.
Construction work is already underway at Ruskin Square, the £500 million, 2 million sq ft mixed-use scheme between East Croydon Station and Dingwall Road. Places For People has been appointed to build and manage the construction of the first residential phase of 161 new homes, due to be completed in 2016. In total, Ruskin Square is set to create up to 1.25 million sq ft of office accommodation, 625 homes and more than 100,000 sq ft of retail and restaurant space.
Croydon Council issued a press release this morning, although not from chief executive Nathan Elvery’s “own” communications team, but through an expensively hired PR company, ING Media. According to them, Boxpark Croydon “… has been designed by Gavin Elliott of architecture practice BDP and will include 80 units arranged around a covered courtyard space made available for year-round events”. Elliott describes his task of upcycling the old shipping containers as “a dream commission”.
The official announcement says, “In line with its Shoreditch forerunner, Boxpark Croydon will focus on small independent retailers to create a unique shopping and dining experience.”
And they add, somewhat pointedly in the context of the Hammersfield scheme, “This will transform the quality of the retail and leisure offer in Croydon and is expected to draw customers and new businesses from across south London, Surrey and Sussex. Offering a click and collect service, Boxpark Marketplace will allow customers to physically shop for products in stores, as well as purchase and share items online and on their mobile.”
Roger Wade, the founder of Boxpark, said, “I want everyone to re-think their view of Croydon. It’s the home of Kate Moss, Tracey Emin, and now Boxpark!” Oddly, Wade did not mention that paragon of modern-thinking and high fashion, Croydon’s very own Malcolm Muggeridge.
Boxpark’s “pre-development works” – providing power cabling and other utilities on a site which was previously a coal depot – are getting investment from the local council and the Greater London Authority as well as Stanhope and Schroder. Some of the jobs created will be apprenticeships, offered in conjunction with Croydon College.
“By offering flexible leases and affordable rents, Boxpark Croydon will offer small businesses, as well as established brands, a route to market,” they say, as if they are offering a ready solution to many of the businesses about to be displaced from the Whitgift Centre by Westfield. “Start-up brands will also be given priority at Boxpark Croydon.”
Jason Margrave, Stanhope’s development director, said: “We are on site building the first phase of residential and have detailed planning permission for the first office building, so it is great that we have reached an agreement with Boxpark to take temporary space at Ruskin Square.
“This will help to bring an increased vibrancy and sense of arrival at East Croydon Station.”
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