Hope around corner for empty Nottingham city centre shops
IT'S a store with a prime location within walking distance of the Old Market Square.
HMV took over the former Virgin and Zavvi store in Wheeler Gate in February 2009 on a ten-year lease – its third city outlet at the time.
But by January 2011, the music and DVD retailer had shut the store. The site has been empty ever since.
But according to Nottingham estate agents FHP, which is among a number of firms looking for a new tenant for the store, that may soon change.
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Director Ben Tebbutt said: "HMV had still been paying rent, up until it went into administration last month. Finding a tenant has now become a more prominent issue for the landlords. We are talking to a couple of people on it and showed someone around it on Monday.
"We are hopeful we can achieve some success on it within the next three to six months."
Mr Tebbutt said the 25,000 sq ft store could be split to allow two tenants to operate across its ground floor and basement.
FHP is looking for tenants for around 50 vacant city-centre units, including the former Tonic bar and restaurant, in Chapel Bar, which closed in August last year.
Six months on, Mr Tebbutt says there has been a lot of interest.
"It's quite a large unit over a couple of levels. We're currently speaking to people and have done a number of viewings."
The old Habitat store, in Long Row, has also lay empty since closing in summer 2011 after the company went into administration.
Will Biggart, a surveyor with retail agency Jackson Criss, which is looking after the unit, said: "There's been some serious interest. It's a good unit, it's prominent, and in a good part of Nottingham. We're hoping to have something in the next few months."
The unit includes a sales area on the basement, ground and first floors, and storage space on the first, second and third floors.
Mr Biggart said issues that had held up a tenancy agreement had included retailers changing their minds.
He added: "There's so much going on behind the scenes. There's so many different factors that affect a property deal, and when it's a bigger property it's going to take longer to do.
"People are a bit more reserved now when it comes to dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's. They want to make sure it will work for them."
Earlier this week, the Local Data Company claimed shop vacancy rates in Nottingham were 26 per cent in 2012, down from 29.6 per cent in 2011.
Nottingham City Council disputed the figures, saying the organisation had included shops outside the city centre, in places such as Alfreton Road and Mansfield Road. The authority says a survey by Experian, showing vacancy rates in 2012 were actually at 18.2 per cent – up from 16 per cent in 2011 – used a more accurate city-centre boundary.
Mr Tebbutt said he expected other prominent units, such as the old Jessops store, in Clumber Street, and Aubin and Wills shop, in Bridlesmith Gate, to soon have tenants
He said: "A number of retailers have opened over the last 12 months, which indicates there is continued demand.
"Certainly, there's no reason not to believe that the core of the city centre is somewhere that retailers want to be."