Although local residents were angered by the abandonment of plans for Westfield’s Bradford branch during 2008, they should be happy now that it is being dusted and taken off the shelf.Westfield has a reputation for glossy London shopping centers. Westfield Stratford City gained publicity after it opened in time for the 2012 Olympics. Wealthy West Londoners and tourists have been regular patrons at its sister mall, Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush.
But, the northern development offers a different story and was dubbed the ‘Bradford hole’ earlier this year. The Australian developer owns 40 malls across the world and started work on clearing the site during 2004. It outraged local residents when it left a glaring 23-acre hold in the city centre during 2008 when it left the site. Local residents and MPs blamed the developers for annihilating the city as it became quite clear that the launch of a new shopping center in 2007 was not set to happen.
Duncan Bower, Westfield’s development director said there were protestors camping inside the site. He said that word was that they should continue with center, but it would not have been good for Bradford. There would have been no tenants at all. He said the recession had taken hold and money was not being spent anywhere.
Ten years after the initial demolition works first commences, Westfield has return to site and are workings towards opening the Westfield Bradford Broadway for Christmas 2015.
During 2011, Westfield resubmitted their application, but for a smaller center, measuring 550000ft², rather than the 620000 ft², two-storey mall.
The steelworks are close to completion and cladding has begun. The laying of floor has commenced within the center and the roof should be done over the next few months.
Due to the groundwork having been done during 2004, the next stage will only take two years.
Around 50% of the 70-unit center has already been leased.
During 2012, Westfield sold the center to fund manager and real estate specialist, Meyer Bergman. There are two additional Canadian pension funds, AIMCo and Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan that have invested in the site.
The sale was initiated as Westfield changed its strategy from collecting shopping centers to development and owning of assets. Westfield will however be involved in the design, construction and leasing of Bradford Broadway and will continue to manage it.
They are experiencing difficulty with regaining trust in the community who may be skeptical about the completion of the project.
Westfield said that the past few years have not been easy, but the future looks positive. The company believes that Bradford has a bright future. Currently, people in Bradford have to go to Leeds for shopping, but would prefer to shop in Bradford.
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15 OCTOBER 2014, United Kingdom