Images revealed by The Gazette today show how the vision to convert a historic Blackpool building into a contemporary leisure venue is set to take shape.
Developers have started work to transform the Grade II listed former Post Office on Abingdon Street into a modern shopping and dining destination – now dubbed the Red Box Quarter.
Proposals for a 50-bedroom hotel have been put on the back-burner, with designer shopping and a rooftop bar now the priority.
Contractors have already removed all the asbestos from the building and are now demolishing surplus areas and taking out old services.
Tendering is due to begin in six weeks’ time to appoint builders who it is hoped will be on site by September, with the refurbished building set to open in summer next year.
Developer Joe Thompson said he was excited about how the project is progressing.
He said: “We think there is more of a market to turn the building into a mini-designer outlet, and are thinking along the lines of something like the retail offer at Cheshire Oaks.
“There is potential for all the units to be used in this way, with the main trading space off the courtyard and scope for areas on the ground and upper floors.
“It means we have to make some amendments to the planning permission we already have in place, but we are speaking to the planning officers at the town hall all the time and they seem to be supportive.
“It is a case of addressing the mix of different uses for the building but still staying with the main agenda.
“We are looking to attract national retailers, for example the sort of brands you might find at Cheshire Oaks.
“It is nice to see the scheme taking shape and we are very excited about the future of the former Post Office.
“We hope these images will show people what we are aiming to achieve.”
Cheshire Oaks is a designer outlet village near Ellesmere Port.
The new Post Office scheme will incorporate a coffee concession in the main counter hall, a restaurant at plaza level and a roof top bar on Edward Street with views over the town and out to sea.
Mr Thompson added other investment plans for Blackpool, such as the £25m new conference centre at the Winter Gardens, were helping drive forward his scheme.
He said: “I think the conference centre will be one of the best things to happen in Blackpool.”
Blackpool-based developer Mr Thompson and his wife Kelly, of Thompson Contracts, bought the landmark building in November 2015 and are creating a multi-million pound transformation, which will include restoration of some of the property’s historic features.
The Post Office was built in 1910, and was used by generations of people until 2007 when the counter service was relocated to WH Smiths in Bank Hey Street.
It re-opened temporarily to provide a parcel collection point, but has been vacant since October 2015 when Blackpool’s main sorting office relocated to a £7m new delivery office at Faraday Way in Bispham.
Thompson Contracts works on national projects with a range of clients including Las Iguanas, Prezzo and Cabana.