It’s tough for most town centres at the moment, and it’s certainly no picnic for the hospitality and leisure industry, either. A lot of effort is required just to keep the lights on and draw in shoppers and customers. Property owners need to be imaginative and find alternative uses for empty premises. Myerson's Commercial Property team was recently involved in a transaction that re-purposed a vacant building, resulting in a new bar/restaurant for the operator.
Our client’s property was formerly a bank within a shopping centre. The “before” photo shows that the property wasn’t the most attractive in the centre by any means and could have stayed empty for some time.
However, the bar/restaurant operator was keen to have a presence in the town, and both owner and operator saw an opportunity. Several months of hard work led to the transformation of the building, as demonstrated by the “after” photos.
The scheme involved several issues:
- A requirement for planning permission. The local authority was receptive to the proposals, but nonetheless, it took time to work through the process and come out the other side with planning permission.
- The grant of the necessary alcohol licence, with trading hours satisfactory to the operator.
- The operator wanted an external seating area. The building backed onto a local authority car park. The agreement was reached with the Council to purchase a row of parking bays at the edge of the car park. As seen from the photos, those spaces have become attractive outdoor spaces.
- Finalising the scope of works to be carried out on the premises by the owner.
Myerson was involved in concluding an agreement for lease and a lease with the operator on behalf of the owner of the property, dealing with the above issues. At the same time, an option agreement was put in place with the Council to purchase the parking area. There were several elements to the option agreement, as the Council was keen to ensure that the scheme would be delivered and would be a positive benefit to the town.
A final factor in the transaction was the need for the premises to be open in time to capitalise on the Christmas trade, such a critical period for the hospitality and leisure industry. This was achieved, leading to a happy ending - as in all Christmas tales.