Rents for units in Boxpark could be set to triple after initial lease periods, Inside Croydon has been informed.
The new soaring rents are understood to be behind the reluctance of some Croydon-based restauranteurs and cafe operators to take space in the new venue.
Roger Wade, the businessman behind the development of bars and restaurants next to East Croydon Station – made possible thanks to a £3million loan of public money from Croydon Council – is presiding over a glitzy VIP reception tonight for council leader Tony Newman, Croydon CEO Jo Negrini, and various public relations types, prior to the opening festival this weekend, which has also been subsidised with £160,000 of council funding.
A case, perhaps, of triples, rather than trebles, all-round.
Wade, the sole owner of Boxpark, unequivocally denies any intention to triple its rental charges.
Boozepark’s grand opening comes nearly five months late, and now we learn it will have to cope with the disruption of the closure of the nearby East Croydon bus station, where work is set to begin next week and to last well into 2017.
Even so, Boozepark’s opening has been a close-run thing, with builders working overtime on the site close to midnight on Sunday with grinders and drills to complete the late-running project.
Such has been the demand for units in Boozepark, with Wade boasting earlier this month of a 95 per cent take-up rate, that some pop-up bars and street food traders have been advised that the introductory offer of £20,000 per year fixed rent (plus VAT, service charges and utility bills), is set to be hiked to more than £60,000 per year – or around £1,200 per week.
“They’re going to have to flip a helluva lot of burgers to make that pay,” someone close to the development said today.
“We’ve let 95 per cent of what space we have available, we’ve purposefully held back two or three units and are now in talks with some great food restaurateurs,” Wade said earlier this month.
“We’ve already got big names like MEATliquor and The Breakfast Club signed up and we are talking to more big names for the spaces we have left.
“These are people who have almost been holding back up until now, waiting to see what line up we could create for Croydon, and now they are fighting to be a part of it.”
Wade is doubtless using this claimed high demand for spaces in his piazza-style development to justify the future rent hikes. Boxpark has the site, on a prominent part of the Stanhope and Schroders’ Ruskin Square development, on a five-year lease, but with prospects beyond that uncertain. So Wade may need to maximise his turnover as speedily as possible to make good on the council loan and turn some profit for his business.
Meanwhile, there’s growing discomfort among officials at Transport for London that long-planned £5.4 million works on East Croydon bus station have not started before, and will only get underway next week, after Boxpark’s long-delayed opening.
The stuttering nature of the completion of this infrastructure project hardly represents a ringing endorsement of the council’s planning department, which was once under the control of Jo Negrini, on whose watch the £3 million Boozepark loan was agreed, and who has since been promoted to council chief executive.
Given the reservations expressed since the much-delayed re-opening of West Croydon bus station – after two years’ work but still without any functioning toilets – there must be concerns about the disruption to be created around the busy railway station and Boxpark.
The works are a continuation of the DisConnected Croydon – now cunningly renamed “Delivering for Croydon” – scheme. It follows the unimpressive new pavements, signage and public seating which has been installed outside the railway station and tram stops on George Street towards Dingwall Road.
The bus station “improvements”, we are told by Croydon Council in a detail-lite announcement, “will ensure easier connections for people moving between buses, trains and trams at East Croydon, and provide better links between eastbound and westbound bus stops”.
The work begins on October 31 and is expected to be finished in five months. Yeah, we’ve heard that one before, too…
In the council press release, Alison Butler, the Labour council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, was quoted as saying that the bus station works will provide “… better signs, lighting, paving and planting so this gateway to the town centre is more welcoming and easier to navigate”.
Notably, there was no mention of the council, and TfL, sorting out the cat’s cradle of a junction either side of the railway station, where road traffic, buses, taxi and trams meet, usually in some arm-wrestle of congestion which has been left, unresolved, almost since the tram network opened 16 years ago.
Maybe spending more than £5 million on a few new pot plants and some crazy paving will take people’s minds off it. Or maybe not…
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