11:15am Monday 2nd April 2012
Hammerson have been selected as the development partner for the Whitgift Centre.
The owners of Centrale shopping centre had been competing with Australian giants Westfield to redevelop the North End mall.
The firm had recently invested £50m in upgrading Centrale, having bought the centre for £100m last year.
At this year’s MIPIM trade fair, Lawrence Hutchings, managing director of UK retail for Hammerson, had outlined his vision of joining up Croydon’s two shopping centres to make the town centre one of the top retail destinations in the country.
The announcement comes after Westfield had been the initial favourites, having entered into exclusive talks with the freeholder Whitgift foundation last November.
But fellow leaseholders Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) and IBRC Assurance Company (IBRCAC) had not been involved and began their own talks.
Jones Lang LaSalle were brought in to handle the deal drew up a shortlist, with Westfield and Hammerson the main candidates.
Today, it was announced Hammerson had been chosen to redevelop the centre, which was first opened in 1968.
Lawrence Hutchings, Hammerson’s managing director (UK Retail)said: “As a key investor and stakeholder in Croydon with the ownership of Centrale Shopping Centre, we see uniting the retail core as key to transforming the town centre and the start of Croydon’s retail-led regeneration.
“We look forward to working with all our Croydon stakeholders to deliver a significant change to Croydon’s future.”
A spokesman for Croydon Council said: "A council spokesman said: “The fact that two major shopping centre developers have demonstrated such a strong interest in Croydon is evidence of our enormous potential.
"There is now a need for a reconciliation of the ownership and commercial interests so that a scheme can proceed without delay.
"We hope that all parties will work to this commercial objective and in the best interests of Croydon and its residents.
"In the meantime, we will deal with any planning proposals individually on their merits.”
In a joint statement, RLAM and IBRCAC said: “The Whitgift Centre lies at the heart of Croydon and its successful redevelopment will be a crucial element in the regeneration of the town itself.
"This consideration underlined every step of our rigorous process of selecting the best partner for the job.
“The quality of submissions from all parties was very high, although in Hammerson we recognised a partner who could demonstrate a long-term commitment to reasserting Croydon as a centre of retail excellence through a combination of redevelopment and organic growth.
"Of equal importance, Hammerson possess the necessary resources to complete a project of this scale successfully.”
The Whitgift Centre provides approximately 580,000 square feet of retail floorspace comprising 154 shop units, department stores and a supermarket, and attracts around 28 million shoppers annually.
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