Monday, 15 March 2010

Some shops start to move into the Corn Exchange

After 2 years and a half of an almost empty building some new shops are starting to move into the Corn Exchange. These shops are "All American Vintage", shoe business "Russo Italia" and Primo's, a 'concept cafe' selling gourmet hot dogs, coffee and ice cream. These are hardly the kind of business that Zurich Assurace were planning to attract when they kicked the independent traders out about 2 years ago. The whole point was to turn the Corn Exchnage into an "international food emporium". No, it seems the strategy has changed and they are advertising the venue as an "independent fashion outlet". BUT THIS IS WHAT IT WAS BEFORE!!! Only that the previous traders were not the kind of "independent" businesses that can afford to pay high rents...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Kirkgate Area Regeneration - Council document

The Council has just published their Draft Kirkgate Planning, Restoration and Regeneration Statement. The document is concerned with the area in between the Corn Exchande and Kirkgate Market, an area in the city that as we have reported here before has been left to degradate in the last years, or in the Council words that" has not benefited from the recent success of the rest of the City Centre". It is also referred as the "missing piece in the rejuvenation of the City Centre". As usual the Council hides behind a language of heritage, conservation and urban design. The area is now visibly in decline with many shops closed and scaffolding around as some buildings are falling apart. It is in fact part of a wider intention to gentrify the whole area on the opposite side of New Market Street and the Victoria Quarter.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Other Markets in danger in Leeds!

Pudsey Market could disappear 'by Christmas' fear

Published Date: 05 August 2009
By Aisha Iqbal

Worried Pudsery Market traders fear it will disappear "by Christmas" unless drastic action is taken.

Stallholders have seen a steady decline in business – and the downturn has seen the number of traders dwindle too. A recent session saw just eight of 35 stalls operating. A recent Saturday market had just two. Many of the traders – some of who have operated there for generations – say a £250,000 redesign by the council last year has been a "disaster". Some fear an upcoming £3m redevelopment of the nearby bus station could be the "final nail in the he coffin" because it will take away the small public car park next to the market. Faqir Ahmed has been running his clothes stall for almost 30 years and he said: "Today I have not even covered my rent. "It was s a lot busier when I started, now I'm getting 10 per cent of the customers I did then. "I have to have a second job and I work seven days a week. I used to do just three days and it was enough. I am surviving but (the council] needs to do something to bring people here." Simon Hepworth, who started with his mum 20 years ago when he was 14, said nowadays he too often struggles to make back his £14.70 rent. He and his co-traders are urging the council to do something to make Pudsey the 'market town' referred to on its entrance sign. They have to advertise Pudsey and they have to define it and promote it," he said, adding: "If this carries on I don't think we will be here at Christmas." Janet Crampton, a regular customer, said: "I use to come here for everything. It had such a lovely atmosphere. but it just doesn't have that anymore." A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: "Pudsey Market received a major refurbishment in autumn 2007, and is running at 80pc occupancy, in line with other markets of its type."All retail outlets are feeling the pinch. We are offering heavily subsidised rates for traders who want to take on empty stalls on Saturdays, and are looking at other ways of supporting them."

Friday, 10 July 2009

what’s going on at Kirkgate Market?


Despite being heralded as the cities ‘crown jewel’, Kirkgate Market is in a continual state of decline.
It has recently been played out in the press that the council are grooming the site for gentrification, purposely running down the market in order to facilitate and rationalise redevelopment.
Yet rather than act as a shining light that seeks to provide answers to the debate, this ‘conversation’ has actually further subtracted and obscured the reality within a cesspool of political spin. Many outspoken traders are now keeping quiet through fear of repercussions and feel helpless to the dictatorial powers which will ultimately determine the future of their business and the market as a whole.
Is the market going to be knocked-down and lost forever? Is it to be redeveloped? Is anyone brave enough to come forward with the plans?
Each week seems to see a long standing trader close down, taking with them some of the spirit and character that once personified the vibrancy of Kirkgate market. To walk around it as it currently is, to see the neglect, to hear the silence and to absorb the depression leaves the unnerving feeling of a market in desperate and dire health.
Depending on what source you look at, anywhere between 15 to 25 percent of all stalls now stand idle and destitute. Yet the market operates at a profit to the council of £1.5 million per year.
But this money isn’t pumped back into the building (only £80,000 is spent on upkeep); instead it is siphoned off into the overall council kitty. At a time when fewer people are spending and when traders are facing one of the harshest economic times in modern history, the council has cut Kirkgate markets advertising budget from £105,000 to £70,000. If you consider that the council spends £750,000 on adult social care every day, you really must wonder just how necessary that extra £35,000 really is.
Higher rents
Whilst numbers are being batted about, it is crucial to raise the issue of rent. This has probably been the most commonly contested theme in the press so far as it is alleged that since 2004 - when the new manager was installed - some rents have increased by up to 90% and, despite the recession and the decreased footfall of shoppers in the market, those in charge refuse to lower rates from the current unsustainable levels.
Some measures were taken a few years ago to help traders struggling to keep up with payments, but that support seems to have evaporated and now traders are threatened with bailiff action if payments are even a day late.
I spent a couple of days at the market discussing the situation with traders and most of the heartache was directed at the ‘bullying tactics’ deployed by the markets managers. Traders claim this hard-line, top-down approach that, for example, now means the guys on Butchers Row must be quiet and prohibits them from hawking their produce, has created the dispirited and downtrodden atmosphere that currently haunts the building.
Unfortunately, despite several attempts, the management has so far refused my approaches to discuss these matters. This seems to be symbolic of the limited interaction traders allege to receive from the market officials.
What needs to be mentioned here however, is not all fingers deserved to be pointed at the authorities. The commercial market simply isn’t supportive of local traders anymore. The environment has changed. Supermarkets and internet shopping now means we no longer have to trudge around city centre markets seeking out the bargains.
We are in a time when society is changing and revolving quicker than ever and perhaps the traders need to begin to show the innovation themselves to adapt in order to stay at the forefront of local produce.
Equally, the managers are trying to entice new traders in to the empty stalls by offering a 90% reduction on the rate – making rent roughly £50 per week. However, whilst this may sound enterprising in theory, in practise it appears to be little more than pretence of finding short term solutions with little or no sustainability.
Resultantly many believe that the council are knowingly and purposely allowing the market to weaken and perish to make the argument ever greater to sell off parts of it to private companies.
What lies ahead…
The redevelopment plans themselves are no secret, it’s just the extend of them which is rather hazy. Following the fire in the 1970’s, the indoor stalls (behind the listed main building) were rebuilt with a lifespan of only 30 years. Clearly then, they are quickly deteriorating and in need of attention. However, the estimated £20 million needed to implement these changes would be undertaken by private investors and resultantly the ‘release of equity’ is likely to have fundamental changes upon the markets genetic composition.
Building modern offices may further extend the desire for urban renaissance within the market and additionally marginalise the current ‘lower-class’ traders and public space on offer there.
The market is a public space, not a private business
It is argued that, as 60% of the Leeds population do not use the market, it therefore does not qualify as a public space. But Kirkgate market is representative of things unique to Leeds, of its local produce, its individual culture and heritage, and perhaps most importantly now, a genuine alternative nationwide, multi-chain companies that Leeds transform into the homogenised and cloned city it now is.
In fact, a survey conducted in 2008 by the Geography department at Leeds University found that the majority of people see the market as the most important component of the city centre.
Yet, tt appears that under the guise of people turning to supermarkets and high-street chains, the market managers are fostering the feeling that the public no longer care about Kirkgate market.
Although the price of the land is potentially worth millions, the cost of losing such a hub of local activity would be enormously detrimental to the native residents of Leeds and the cities character as a whole.
Join the Kirkgate Market facebook group -

Friday, 12 September 2008

No takers for Leeds Corn Exchange

Published on YEP 11 September 2008
By Debbie Leigh
A LANDMARK Leeds shopping centre that kicked out all its traders has just ONE tenant after a major refurbishment – leaving 35 units empty.
Shops at Leeds Corn Exchange were given notice 10 months ago, part of plans to create a food emporium.But one prospective tenant who backed away from taking one of the units said the rent of £60-70 and service charge of £12.50 per square foot a year was "astronomical". She currently pays £19 rent and £1.80 service charge per square foot in Leeds.In November, many leaseholders, whose boutiques sold a wide variety of jewellery, clothing and gifts, were given just two months notice.At the time Threadneedle, which manages the listed building on Call Lane on behalf of leaseholders Zurich Assurance, said letting agent Central Retail was " engaging with potential operators".

But aside from the much-trumpeted agreement with award-winning Leeds chef Anthony Flinn, right, who is taking over the entire 13,200 sq ft basement level, NONE of the remaining 35 units has been taken.A spokeswoman for the Corn Exchange said it was "heavily in negotiations with new tenants and we hope to be able to announce the next phase of lettings soon".The Piazza by Anthony – a restaurant, bakery and patisserie that will supply all the Anthony's eateries – is expected to open around November.Anthony Flinn senior, business director at Anthony's, said: "There's a lot of work to do in filling all the other units, course there is."We are in a credit crunch. I understand why people are nervous."We feel we have taken over a big enough chunk of it to make a success of it downstairs within its own right."Proposals for the rest of the building, which has undergone a £1.5m refurbishment, include selling produce on the first floor and non-food cookware on the upper floor.One former tenant said they had been told by Corn Exchange staff the venue would be full of the new businesses by April this year. Some said they had been told it would be operating from June.Several Leeds businesspeople told the YEP they had considered the move but decided against it.The co-owner of one successful lunch spot said agents told them a big launch had been planned for June this year, when they expected around 10 units to be open.They said it was too expensive.She said: "They (the agents) were like, 'How much would you like to pay?' But even if it was free it just doesn't feel right for us."The owner of another city-centre deli said: "I won't be going in now but never say never. I wouldn't say it's a risky venture but it's too much of a risk for me."Lorna Potter, of Pickles & Potter Deli, Queens Arcade, said: "We were looking to go in but the reason why we pulled the plug is it doesn't feel right for me."Reasons people gave included: "It's an unproven site, the rents are high, people aren't spending" and "I just think there are better places in Leeds to start a new shop."Leeds City Council owns the building but it is leased to Zurich Assurance in an agreement spanning more than 100 years.The only remaining businesses are Ark Male, Ark Female, and Grin, whose lease expires in January.Describing her feelings one leaseholder said: "Bitterness that we've been kicked out and also at the fact that they've destroyed a beautiful building really."

12 September 2008 11:57 AM

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Upmarket restaurant for the Corn Exchange

Eventhough traders were kicked out the Corn Exchange in Leeds in January 08 there is still no sign of new tenants. This is rather strange given the urgency with which Zurich and their asset management company Threatneedle wanted to get rid of the old tenants.

Recently, however, it has been revealed that Anthony's (allegedly Yorkshire's most celebrated chef...) is taking over the whole ground floor now re-named as "piazza" to open a restaurant, shops and also an exclusive private lounge.

Richard Saul, Asset Manager at Threadneedle Investments that manages the property for leaseholder Zurich Assurance has apparently said:
"We are delighted to have secured The Piazza by Anthony as the anchor tenant at Leeds Corn Exchange. We have always set out to revitalise Leeds most treasured building with a unique new retail offer that can be sustained in the long term. This agreement with Anthony’s not only supports that but also delivers against our commitment to secure successful local and national operators with individuality and flair"

So, no surprises here and as expected the Corn Exchange is set to become yet another comercial, upmarket space in the centre of Leeds.