Buttermarket Centre in Ipswich is finished

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    The Buttermarket Centre in Ipswich is finished – but has it improved the town?

    The multi-million pound redevelopment of the Buttermarket centre in the heart of Ipswich has now officially been completed with the opening of the Empire Cinema – but what do you think of the work?

    Developers Capital & Regional bought the centre for just over £9m in 2015 and invested £25m in converting part of it into the cinema, restaurants and other leisure uses.

    It was sold earlier this year to the National Grid Pension Fund for just under £55m.

    The project was delivered by architecture, sports and leisure firm LK2 and contractor Simons Group.

    Phase one of the works saw the scheme transformed into a vibrant retail destination, rejuvenating the centre’s retail offering with high street giants such as New Look and TKMaxx trading from larger, newer units.

    A second phase of work saw the completion of an 18,000 sq ft gym, bowling alley, family entertainment centre and a food and drink quarter. This phase was finalised with the opening of the 12 screen multiplex Empire cinema, owned by Empire, which opened in March

    But do you like the transformation of the centre? Have you been to the Empire or visited any of the new restaurants? Is it a more attractive destination for the town centre than when it was retail-centred?

    Paul Starbuck, director at LK2, said: “We are immensely proud of this scheme as we feel it has met the needs of the client and optimised the available floor space.

    “By repositioning the shopping centre as a retail and leisure destination, visitors are now encouraged to stay for more than just an hour or so of shopping.”

    The redevelopment now incorporates more leisure facilities into the centre and provides a diverse offering to visitors. When the building was acquired in 2015, only 43% of the centre’s units were occupied. At the time of its resale in February this year, the centre was 90% occupied.

    Tom Robinson, Simons chief executive, said: “We are incredibly proud of what’s been achieved at the Buttermarket – this type of project is no easy feat but working again with the team at LK2 we have achieved a fantastic outcome for the client. Visitors to the centre will undoubtedly have a great experience for years to come.”

    Feel free to comment on IPSWI.

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