Three new units have been let in Olympia House, in the heart of Newport, showing sure signs of economic growth and revitalisation in the city.
The building, which previously housed the Passport Office, and Marks and Spencer had lain virtually empty for two years before being bought by Richard Hayward Properties in 2013.
Now the property developers intend to re-establish Olympia House as a focal point of the city centre by updating it as a mixed-use building.
These three units are the starting point of that project and have been taken by a pole-dancing exercise studio, a charity shop and Newport Now, the headquarters of the local BID (Business Improvement District).
The lettings follow the announcement earlier this year that sports retailer Sports Direct is to take a major unit in the building which was previously used by Marks and Spencer. The retailers have also applied for planning permission to build a gym in the building.
And joint venture partners the Tonstate Group and Richard Hayward Properties have also submitted a planning application to change the use of the upper floors of Olympia House from offices to residential and its redevelopment into 62 apartments for private rental. A decision is expected in the early autumn.
Built in the 1960s, the 90,000 sq ft Olympia House is a nine-storey building, which previously housed the Passport Office. It currently consists of 13 retail units with six floors of office accommodation above.
As one of the largest buildings in Newport, the redevelopment of Olympia House to provide residential units with retail and leisure uses at on the lower levels will support the regeneration of the city, helping to bring residents back into the centre creating improved vibrancy and a greater sense of community.
Initial preparatory work has already stared, including clearing out internal areas and removing asbestos. Work has already been able to start on a soft strip for the flats while talks are underway regarding the letting of retail units.
Olympia House is just one of a number of projects that RHP is working on in Newport city centre – all of which are supporting its regeneration, creating jobs and acting as a catalyst for further investment by others. Others include the new 60-bed Premier Inn currently being developed opposite the station.
Commenting on the lettings, Richard Hayward said: “These units are an important part of what we are doing in Newport as a whole – looking towards small and larger retailers units as well as the residential element. Having Newport Now, a catalyst for local business improvement, on board, is a tremendous sign of their confidence in Olympia House and Newport.“I am confident that this building and this city will continue to go from strength to strength.”