Radical new future for The Moor in Sheffield under new owners after Covid forces sale
Debenhams could be demolished and 1,400 flats built on The Moor in Sheffield after the premier shopping street sold for a bargain price due to the pandemic.
Property company NewRiver snapped up the 28-acre site for just £41m - less than half the £89m asking amount - and unveiled radical redevelopment plans.
Bosses said filling empty shops and boosting footfall after lockdown was top priority, but up to 1,100 private and up to 300 student flats could be built in the next six years.
Access to The Light cinema could be improved - it is currently via long escalators - and the Debenhams department store, which is set to close permanently this year, could be flattened and redeveloped.
Previous owner Aberdeen Standard took a huge hit on the deal after buying The Moor in 2010 and spending £120m redeveloping it.
NewRiver boss Allan Lockhart said the price reflected the impact of Covid.
He added: “For sure the price was attractive, we also really like the opportunity to regenerate parts of the estate for residential, which will benefit the retailers. We are very comfortable this will be a successful investment despite the increase in vacancies.”
The Moor has 42 shops and 13 per cent vacancies, but two units were already under offer, he added.
Flats were a big part of the plan long term, although he declined to say where.
NewRiver will have a ‘significant influence’ on the future of the Debenhams department store, although it does not own it, he added.
Options include shops, offices, leisure and flats, and refurbishment or redevelopment - which could include demolition.
“We don’t want it to remain empty. It is not going to be a department store in future. We need to do more technical work but we want a finished building that looks great. It is a key part of our strategy.”
NewRiver bought The Moor estate in a joint venture with Bravo Strategies. It includes a 670-space car park, Wickes on Moore Street and the Staples Shopping Centre off Eyre Street.
The company owns 33 shopping centres, 24 retail parks and 700 pubs. But The Moor is the firm’s first city centre asset.
Mr Lockhart said: “We have never had the opportunity to own an estate in a major city centre before, usually they are a very, very high price. Covid has led to values falling and opportunities for investors.