Blackpool’s Talbot Gateway scheme received a lift today after it was announced a national gym operator is to take over all remaining empty units underneath the Talbot Road multi-storey car park.
But it means an existing council-run gym across the road will close – with uncertainty over the future of 12 staff members.
The new operator, who has not been named, has agreed to lease 17,244 sq ft of space in the building where a restaurant is also due to open shortly.
Regeneration chiefs, who have come under fire for the slow pace at which tenants have been found for the development, today welcomed the move.
Coun Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for municipal assets, said: “The company we are working with is a national firm looking to open a gym in the heart of Blackpool town centre.
“We have had interest from four gym operators and following this approval we will be agreeing a contract with the proposed company.
“People ask why all the units aren’t filled but it is vitally important to us that we chose the right businesses that enhance the area and have a long term future.
“In the coming weeks I also expect to approve a lease for one of the retail units in the Number One Bickerstaffe Square offices.
“The Talbot Gateway Central Business District development has transformed this area of Blackpool and once these units are occupied it will increase footfall further.”
Greg Ball, development surveyor for the council’s development partner Muse Developments, said: “We’re delighted to have a national gym operator on board and they will be a big draw for Talbot Gateway.
“The new facility will be open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, and we’re really excited to deliver this offering.”
It is two years since a £6m refurbishment of the car park was completed, boasting a number of units on the ground floor.
Mr Basrai’s World Buffet, which is due to open in the coming weeks, will operate out of the remaining unit in the building. But the council-run Gateway Fitness, which was opened in June last year by former Olympic athlete Colin Jackson, will close by the end of the year as part of the agreement with the new operator.
One user said: “The Council has spent alot of money on this new facility and yet never seemed to have really tried to make it work for them, or their local residents who again are now left without facilities in the town centre.”
The equipment, which cost £150,000, will be transferred to Blackpool Sports Centre.
Consultation is currently being carried out with affected Gateway staff.