The boss of a retail giant set to invest millions in the town believes his firm can restore Croydon to its former glory.
Hammerson chief executive David Atkins believes his firm can transform the fortunes of Croydon after securing the right to redevelop the Whitgift Centre.
The company brought Centrale shopping centre, the opposite side of North End, last year and has announced a £50m redevelopment, including building a cinema.
He said: "You don't need a long memory to recall when Croydon was the West End of South London.
"But today, sadly, the town's name has become synonymous with a declining retail centre and the awful scenes that unfolded during last summer's riots.
"With both shopping centres in the same ownership, we can bring to life a vision for the town's retail offer which meets the need for modern, well-configured space, and creates an attractive environment in which shoppers want to spend their leisure time."
He extended an olive branch to the Whitgift Foundation, who have a stake in the Whitgift Centre and criticised the choice of Hammerson to develop the site.
He said: "The Whitgift Foundation is an organisation with a remarkable heritage and whose work we hugely admire.
"Our partnership owns 100 per cent of Centrale, and 75 per cent of the Whitgift Centre leasehold.
"We are best placed to lead the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre, and have an opportunity to deliver a once-in-a-generation transformation of the town's retail offer.
"We hope all our fellow landowners in the town will work with us to make it a reality."