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.

An excuse for another dispersal order?

This article has appeared on the Yorkshire Evening Post on the 5th of August. Who is the mysterious businessman that contacted YEP with the story? Perhaps someone who thinks that the youngsters would annoy the dinners at the future Anthony's?????

Leeds youths terrorise Corn Exchange with drugs, alcohol and violence
Youths congregating behind the corn exchange
Yorkshire Evening Post

Published Date: 05 August 2008
By Debbie Leigh
DRUNKEN, drug-taking, violent teenagers are causing mayhem in Leeds city centre.
Up to 80 gather on Saturday afternoons in Chancellor's Court behind the Corn Exchange, and indulge in outrageous, offensive and criminal behaviour, a businessman told the YEP. He claims he has seen horrendous violence, including:
Gangs hurling bricks
A young girl so high on drugs she slit her wristsThe man, who didn't want to be named, said: "I watched one guy get stamped on by another guy repeatedly, I've seen them throwing bricks at each other, one girl who looked around 15 slit her wrists open."She took a broken bottle to her arm and cut a couple of inch wounds to her wrist - there was quite a lot of blood. The ambulance crew said 'why did you do it?'"She said 'I don't know what I was doing, I was taking pills and doing poppers."The police are now taking action - setting up extra patrols and CCTV.

A second worker from a nearby venue said: "There was a big group of youths fighting with bats in the car park, trying to use whatever weapons they could find."Another trader, who said his customers were intimidated, said: "I saw the aftermath when a girl tried to kill herself - she was lying on the floor with blood pouring out of her arm."He added: "There's a big stone chair at the bottom - they had ripped up all the bricks and thrown them out. The trees they plant are ripped out every weekend."Some of the youngsters, aged around 10 to 21, just run around, screaming and shouting but many are accused of:

Brazen under-age boozing
Smoking drugs
Urinating in the streets

In the past couple of years Leeds City Council landscaped Chancellor's Court as part of a Yorkshire Forward-funded programme to improve several prominent areas in the city centre and encourage more people to use it.And the Corn Exchange has undergone a stunning £1.5million refurbishment to restore it to its former glory.Jason Georgiou, who ran Rebop vintage fashion store in the historic building but moved to nearby Crown Street earlier this year, said the yobs had damaged trade.The Leeds businessman who contacted the YEP said: "We and everyone else on the street are at the end of our tether because it has a serious effect on our businesses. Couples and old people who walk past get abused and shouted at."He said traders had rung police countless times and he was disappointed with the response, claiming they made youngsters pour away their booze then left.Inspector Ron Jones, of Leeds City Neighbourhood Police Team, said: "In response we have deployed CCTV and stepped up patrols in the area and, with partners, are again engaging with the young adults to see if we can find suitable new places they will want to go to, rather than simply moving them on."I want to stress however that if we identify anyone causing vandalism, graffiti or anti-social behaviour we will take positive action and they will be prosecuted."A spokesman for Leeds Chamber of Commerce said: "Obviously the situation needs monitoring to make sure we do identify what sort of things are taking place and then it's dealt with appropriately."A Leeds City Council spokesman said: "We have been working closely for some time with the young people who congregate in this area, helping them find a constructive outlet for their energy and enthusiasm."

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Proposals for the "regeneration" of Kirkgate Market

Leeds City Council conducted between January and February 2008 a consultation process about the future refurbishment of Kirkgate Market. 1217 people took part in the consultation out of which only 26 from the general public and 101 tenants /traders. The rest was made up of the so called "Citizen's Panel". The consultation was not open to the general public and the questionnaire had to be requested at the Markets office. The results of the consultation have now been analysed and they generally support the Council's plans for regeneration.

But what does the regeneration consist of? An extract from the latest Council report of the Market on the 11th of June 2008 gives us an idea of the development opportunities that the Council is planning for....

4.1 The previous Executive Board report dealing with Kirkgate Market redevelopment
(Nov 2007) introduced the concept that the potential for development options and
partnerships would evolve over time. In terms of taking the market redevelopment
forward some informal exploration has lately taken place.

4.2 The Executive Board will be aware of the significant development proposals of the
Eastgate/Harewood scheme – immediately adjacent to the northern periphery of
Kirkgate Market – which could be a key driver of Market redevelopment. It is
considered that the Eastgate/Harewood development will be
very influential in the
medium and long-term success of Kirkgate Market
and therefore physical and visual
linkage will be important. Simultaneously, the timing and phasing of associated
construction – for both projects – will be critical for the operational needs of the

4.3 The Eastgate/Harewood scheme is a joint venture between Town Centre Securities
and Hammersons
with considerable input from Leeds City Council - this grouping
being known as the Leeds Partnership (LP).

4.4 Relatively recently - through the LP – it has emerged that the Eastgate/Harewood
development requires a solution for the future accommodation of the Department of
Works and Pensions (DWP). The DWP is currently situated within the curtilage of the
Eastgate/Harewood scheme and relocation is fundamental to the scheme.

4.5 As a result, the LP approached the Markets Service and Chief Asset Management
Officer to assess whether there might be a synergy between the Eastgate/Harewood
scheme and Kirkgate Market redevelopment and in particular whether the Kirkgate
Market redevelopment proposals might incorporate accommodation for the DWP.

4.6 Informal discussions with the LP – including their architects – and based on the
principles of the Kirkgate Market redevelopment consultation brochure, have taken
place over the last eight weeks.

4.7 Through an iterative process - in line with the definition of peripheral development of
the Kirkgate Market site - a possible development proposal affording DWP
accommodation has been identified.

4.8 The strength of Hammersons is a recognised benefit of the LP and there would appear to be significant advantage to the Kirkgate Market redevelopment if it was intrinsically linked to the Eastgate/Harewood scheme. For example, decanting tenants
and traders and whole sections of the Market during rebuild could be facilitated by the
temporary use of adjacent land.

4.9 The informal discussions with the LP have now concluded and in order to take the
redevelopment proposals forward it would be necessary to enter into a limited period
of exclusivity.

4.10 It is considered that any period of exclusivity will not in the first instance exceed three
months and that any emerging partnership with LP will include agreement that the:
□ LP would undertake all phases of the Kirkgate Market development without break;
□ Redevelopment of Kirkgate Market would be completed within 36 months of the
start of works.

5.1 Executive Board are requested to:
(i) Note the results of the public and tenant and trader consultation and agree that
development proposals continue to be advanced on the basis of those set out in
the consultation document and on the basis of the accord shown in the public,
tenant and trader opinions - as set out in section 3 of this report;
(ii) Note the informal discussions with the Leeds Partnership.
(iii) Approve the commencement of an initial three month period of exclusivity with the Leeds Partnership in order to identify a suitable development option for Kirkgate Market.
(iv) Instruct that officers bring back a further report to this Board detailing the outcome
of the discussions with the Leeds Partnership.

It looks like Private Developers Town Centres Securities and Hammersons could have a much stronger role in the regeneration of the publicly owned Kirkgate Market in trying to link it to the upmarket future development of the Harewood/Eastgate Quarter.

Hammerson's record on respecting the social history and value of buildings and places is not impressive and its status as a "leading European real estate company" with its natural objective to "maximize returns by taking advantage of different market cycles, whilst diversifying risk", make us think that Kirkgate Market could in for a gentrification process.


Thursday, 17 January 2008

What is going on with the Kirkgate Market?

Traders angry at £1.5m market profit

Yorkshire Evening Post, 11th of January 2008

Peter Lazenby

LEEDS City Council is making £1.5m a year profit out of the city's Kirkgate market – while traders warn of financial problems and stalls stand empty.
Traders say rent, rates and increasing energy bills are pushing more and more to the brink.

The YEP used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain figures that show the indoor market costs the council £3,064,000 to run, and it generates income of £4,228,000.

The outdoor market costs £357,000 and brings in £750,000. The total profit is £1,517,000.

On top of rent and service charges, traders also pay business rates, not included in the profits.

Leeds City Council said that over the last 15 years it has invested £12m in the market and that the number of vacant stalls and shops had fallen.

Traders reacted angrily to news of the levels of profit.

Colin Coultas of Tony Banks grocery in the indoor market said: "All I know is that if they charged a different rent they could fill the units. I can remember when there were no empty units.

"The last big rent increase was about 90 per cent. It used to be one of the best markets in Britain – probably the best."

Michael Gaynor of Malcolm Michael butchers said: "The rent and service charges are about £320 a week and the business rates are about £95 so that's £415 a week. They are screwing us."

A cafe off butcher row which had once been a thriving business closed overnight recently, costing four jobs.

In some sections four properties in a row are empty and to let. Leeds Pottery is to close shortly.

One trader who did not want to be named said: "If they lowered the rents the people of Leeds would get a better bargain. It is £1,000 a month and it is too much."

Other traders said they dare not talk to the YEP because of fear of reprisals. Mr Gaynor said he had been summoned to a meeting with market management after speaking to the YEP some weeks ago.

One trader sang the praises of the council and market management. "They do a fantastic job," said Wazim Mir who has two clothing stalls in the indoor market.

But young butcher John Smith said: "I have worked for three butchers here and two of them have closed."

Leo Burke, who has been on butcher row for 20 years, said: "I pay £1,700 a month for rent, rates and service charge. It is astronomical."

A council spokesman said: "We will continue to invest heavily to keep the market healthy and vibrant.

"Profits go into a central pot to help the council provide a range of services and keep council taxes low. However, it would be inaccurate to say this shows a lack of commitment to the market.

"Before Christmas, the number of vacant stalls decreased with fewer than 10 per cent unoccupied – a similar figure to previous years.

Monday, 14 January 2008

The last protest...

Dozens gathered on Saturday the 12th of January to protest for the closure of most shops in the Corn Exchange.
Zurich, the insurance company that manages the building, have dismissed the protests and pleas of over 15,000 for the building to remain an independent traders venue. No public explanation by Zurich has been given despite the numerous letters sent by the public, MPs and even Prince Charles! The negotiations between the Leader of Leeds City Council Andrew Carter and Zurich did not lead to any compromise by the insurance company and the Council is constrained by the 100 year long lease.
The sad conclusion is that on the 14th OF JANUARY most traders will leave the building and only only seven shops will be left, who have already started to look for alternative places as business at the Corn Exchnage is expected to go down.

Fair Exchange? Big Issue 7-13 January 2008