Doncaster’s first historic ‘shopping mall’ is to be given a major makeover to bring it into the 21st century.
The King’s Arcade in St Sepulchre Gate - the town’s only under-cover shopping precinct when it was built 100 years ago - is the latest project to benefit from major investment by Doncaster developers Lazarus Properties.
The ground floor of the Art Nouveau-style arcade, which will be remembered by many older couples who got married there when it housed the town’s Register Office, was partly demolished and converted into a single store unit in the early 1980s.
But since the Poundstretcher store closed more than a year ago the unit has been empty and forlorn.
Now Lazarus are planning to spend around £500,000 to create up to eight separate units for small quirky shops and cafes to make it a “vibrant shopping arcade”.
Glyn Smith, of Lazarus, said they are “conscious that Doncaster should not be a clone town where all you get are the same homogenised high street stores”.
“This is where places like King’s Arcade come in and can be different to other places - a shopping destination that will feature the quirky independent traders and offer something different,” he said.
The newly created arcade will be a ‘cut-through’ to West Laith Gate, as it was until the 1980s conversion, and Mr Smith says it will be “a cracking location” for small traders because of its proximity to the Frenchgate Centre, Interchange and bus stops in Duke Street.
“A lot of small traders want premises near the Frenchgate which are a bit more affordable and this is something we want to put into Doncaster,” he said. “Leeds has a lot of nice arcades and this will be a start for us.”
Another one of Doncaster historic arcades could also be set for a revival.
This week Lazarus completed the purchase of the derelict Odeon Arcade site in Hallgate from the Wetherspoon’s chain, which decided not to proceed with plans for another pub in the town centre.
“We would love to replicate the old arcade because it is currently an eyesore with lots of scaffolding holding up one of the old shops. We will need to investigate that before we know what we can do with it,” said Mr Smith.
The original King’s Arcade housed quality outlets such as a men’s outfitters, children’s wear and hardware shops in its heyday, but went into decline in the 1970s after the Arndale Centre opened.
After the new Register Office opened in Elmfield Park, the mainly empty shops were cleared to create a single store.
The Odeon Arcade shop units survived for a few years after the original Odeon Cinema was knocked down but eventually the site was cleared and part of it was enveloped by the NCP car park.