From Insider Media Limited | Monday 2 July 2018
The director of a Hull-based firm of chartered surveyors has called for the creative use of the city's iconic House of Fraser building, following the news that the department store chain has earmarked it for closure.
House of Fraser is set to shut 31 of its 59 shops across the UK, including its Hull store, as part of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with creditors.
The retailer has traded from the building at the corner of Jameson Street and Ferensway since 1972 when it acquired the Hammonds of Hull business.
The property was built in the 1960s after the original store on the site was destroyed during WWII.
Paul White, agency director at Garness Jones chartered surveyors, said the size and location of the building offered a range of options to continue the transformation of the city centre.
"It’s a big building and one of the most significant retail sites in the city centre," he said. "For House of Fraser that became a challenge to far, but the closure will bring the opportunity to do something different.
"Ultimately what happens next is down to the owners. Hull City Council will also have an important part to play and has shown with other developments that it is in tune with the need to build on the improvements of recent years and continue to work towards creating an environment which will attract people into the city centre.
"Build costs are going up and we have to be creative with the space, but the House of Fraser building could still be broken up nicely to accommodate various different uses. Options could include offices, restaurants, retail, a hotel, a combination. There are examples around the world of buildings that accommodate all of those under one roof and operate successfully, 24 hours a day, as a result."
White also emphasised that, despite the chains decision to close its Hull store, the outlook remained positive for the city.
"It is important to remember that the decision by House of Fraser to pull out is not a reflection on the appeal of Hull," he said. "The company’s problems have forced them to shut 31 of their larger stores around the country, whereas Hull has seen increased activity and confidence in the last couple of years."
White said city centres are increasingly moving away from traditional retail with buildings being converted for new uses.
He said: "We’ve completed a number of property transactions during the last two years which have been about changing the use of buildings from offices to residential, encouraging more people to live in the city centre and provide a customer base for the commercial businesses.
"There are many examples within St Stephen’s and Princes Quay of retail space being turned over for leisure use such as tenpin bowling and trampolining. Albion Street will combine retail, leisure and residential, and we are looking at some exciting new leisure projects elsewhere in the city centre."