New plans have been revealed that aim to transform the iconic Howells building in Cardiff city centre which currently hosts the House of Fraser department store. The plans include accommodation, food and drink outlets, office spaces and new retail tenants.
The ambitious plans aim to completely change the overall use of the building with several new tenants moving in alongside the House of Fraser, while ensuring the history and reputation of the site remains intact.
Azeemeh Zaheer, CEO of Naissance Capital Real Estate, who acquired the site in 2016, says the building is currently 277,000 sq ft and House of Fraser is operating in just half of that. Zaheer explains that the site is an iconic landmark and holds huge significance to the people of Cardiff and those who visit, and the plan is to make sure it remains a destination people can appreciate and continue to enjoy experiencing.
Zaheer added that they are not looking to remove the aspect of retail within the building but are instead planning to create a mixed-use scheme that will be of benefit to many different people. Upgrades are needed to help achieve this, so the Welsh Government and Cardiff City Council have been approached with each showing signs of positive support towards the ideas, as have senior members of Cadw.
Naissance Capital believe the introduction of a mixed-use site will also provide cross-over benefits to all businesses within the building. They highlight that to increase footfall you need a mixture of leisure, office, accommodation, retail and a place to eat and drink.
Due to it’s significant size and location within the centre of Cardiff, it’s believed that keeping it isolated to one specific asset class makes no sense, and the best approach is to create and curate a place with businesses that compliment one another and help increase footfall.
At it’s peak, the building had 500 people working there, but that has currently dropped to around 250. The new plans hope to increase the number of combined jobs within the businesses to more than the original high of 500.
With regards to the development of the proposed project, Ms Zaheer says she is keen to see local companies appointed, so that Welsh talent and ingenuity can be integrated into the heart of the development project.
Last September, Ms Zaheer announced that an agreement had been made to keep House of Fraser in the building. The positive working relationship that has been built means the store is set to remain within the building, and the new collection of tenants will help enhance their footfall and compliment retail purchases.
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