We are halfway through August, with the schools going back for their autumn term in a fortnight. Yet Boxpark Croydon, due to open in “Summer 2016” still has not got a confirmed opening date.
The retail operation, on a corner of the Ruskin Square development, is not going to be the collection of boutique fashion shops which was initially suggested, and despite a £3million loan from Croydon Council and being handed £160,000 of public money to stage promotional events in the guise of the borough’s “Ambition Festival”, the operators are unable to confirm when they expect to be open for business.
The operators, who are charging traders up to £1,200 per week in rents for units made from disused shipping containers (“excludes service charge and utilities”) today declined to offer a comment to Inside Croydon to explain the apparent delay.
Don’t ring us, we’ll ring you was the gist of the response we got from the (doubtlessly expensive) north London PR agency handling Boxpark’s publicity. “We’re just firming up the details for the launch and once we have this, we’ll be in touch,” was as much as a spokeswoman from Full Fat would offer.
The longer the delays in the opening of Boxpark, the greater the risk to any “return on investment” there is to Croydon Council on its loan. Long-established Croydon traders, especially those in the restaurant, entertainment or pub sectors, have received no such multi-million-pound public subsidy for their businesses.
And without any firm opening dates for Boxpark made public, it must make using the council’s £160,000 Ambition Festival budget to book acts very tricky. Last year, the first Ambition Festival was staged over a week in July. This year, with Boxpark given the funds by our council to move into the arts promotions business, the Ambition Festival will last just two days and seems likely to be held in October. Maybe.
Inside Croydon broke the news of the Boxpark deal in February last year, ahead of a wine and canapés launch staged at the annual developer-fest at MIPIM in Cannes, in the south of France. Initial indicators suggested the complex would open three months ago, in May 2016. Only the trains pulling in at nearby East Croydon Station are subject to such lengthy delays.
Construction delays, some caused by the difficulty of delivering power and other utilities to the site, are understood to be the principle cause of the ongoing uncertainty over the launch date.
As recently as March, Croydon Council’s press office was still issuing upbeat bollocks about Boxpark opening in the summer, with the Ambition Festival – “a joint venture between Boxpark Croydon” meaning that Council Tax-payers are footing the bill, and Boozepark derive the principle benefits – being staged in September.
It seems unlikely that anyone at the council will be held responsible for the decisions that brought us to this situation. The council official who worked on bringing Boxpark to Croydon has in the meantime been hired to work for… Boxpark.
And doling out a loan of millions of pounds of public money to a private business concern at a time of cut-backs to Town Hall staff and services was the bright idea of Croydon Council executive Jo Negrini. And she has since been promoted to chief executive.
Trebles all round!
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