More than 400 jobs could be created by plans for a massive refurbishment at the Junction One retail centre at Antrim owners The Lotus Group have announced.
A £30 million scheme will “re-invigorate” the centre, it said, attracting a significant number of new and well-known leisure and retail brands.
And it claims an economic impact assessment by Oxford Economics has shown that almost 475 new jobs will be created in the operational phase with an increased wage bill of £8.4m contributing £17.6m to the local economy.
Up to 430 jobs are expected to be created during construction generating a further £10.9m in salaries.
The investment will see dramatic changes to the look and feel of the centre Junction One as it currently sits.
Plans for the site will see the re-arrangement of some of the existing stores, a new boulevard entrance to the park and greater connectivity to the surrounding area making it one of the most modern retail environments in the UK and Ireland.
“This is fantastic news for the Antrim area,” said Alastair Coulson, asset and property management director with The Lotus Group.
“At Lotus Group we have applied our experience and insight to better understand what tenants need and be responsive to offer the brands that shoppers want. This gives us the competitive edge in the market we are pursuing and will ultimately drive success.”
Both Junction One and The Outlet retail centre at Banbridge were bought out of administration by the Lotus Group earlier in the year in a deal valued at £40m.
Then, the firm announced its aim of developing both centres.
“Now that The Outlet and Junction One are both under single ownership there is a significant opportunity for us to enhance and differentiate the sites,”said . There will be a period of substantial investment to reinvigorate the schemes.
“We will be enhancing both destinations and providing additional and more diverse brands. Our strategy will direct The OUTLET towards a mid-premium market position and differentiate this from Junction One, with a mid-value convenience position within the market.”
In respect of Junction One, a comprehensive planning application is expected to be brought forward soon with the community consultation process taking place in January and February 2017.
“When we bought Junction One we inherited a retail park that was neglected for a number of years and suffered from a lack of investment,” said Mr Coulson.
“Our experienced team saw the opportunity for a re-invigorated scheme and we are now working hard to bring bigger brands, better marketing and longer term leasing for our high profile tenants.”
“At Lotus Group we have applied our experience and insight to better understand what tenants need and be responsive to offer the brands that shoppers want.”
In the wider view, he said it was an extremely positive move for the area as a whole.
“We are going to bring forward more jobs for local people and more opportunities in terms of retail management skills training, not to mention extra construction jobs in the redevelopment phase.”
“We expect that further investment will be triggered off the back of this redevelopment and indirect benefits will be numerous for the local supply chain and local area.”
“This investment will bring Junction One back to its former prominence and make it a top performing retail destination anywhere on these islands.”