Thursday, October 14, 2021

News: Muse makes progress to attract tenants to Forge Island


Muse Developments is pushing ahead with detailed technical designs in an effort to steal a march on other schemes and tie down food & beverage (f&b) operators for Forge Island.

The Council-owned site in Rotherham town centre, which sits between the River Don and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal, will host a new leisure scheme with an 8-screen boutique style cinema, modern hotel, food and drink outlets and car parking.

Major hotel brand, Travelodge, recently exchanged a long-term deal to become an anchor tenant. This followed the news earlier in the year that boutique cinema operator, The Arc, had agreed to open its seventh site at the scheme.

To capitalise on securing the anchor tenants, Rotherham Council and Muse have agreed to accelerate detailed designs that they say will increase the attractiveness of the scheme to f&b occupiers and provides the best opportunity of securing an early start on site.

At the time of securing the approval of the planning board in 2020, developers anticipated that construction would begin in autumn 2021.

Work on the public realm by the canal and demolition work on Corporation Street has taken place so far.

The approved plans include a 40 cover café/bar area in the hotel plus a separate 2,500 sq ft restaurant unit. A separate building adjacent to the hotel is for a 5,400 sq ft restaurant and a 1,500 sq ft café is planned for an open area called "Millgate Place."

Council papers state: "There are few schemes for occupiers to consider that are so well advanced with anchor pre-lets of an 8-screen cinema and a hotel. Further progressing the scheme, to a stage where construction is ready to start, will maximise a window of opportunity during which competition from other schemes is relatively low, locally and regionally, allowing deals to be secured at incentive/rents that are most favourable to the Council."

Papers show that, after exchanging contracts on the hotel, Muse will have spent around £750,000 to date on design and legal fees. The total estimated further cost (including a contingency allowance) to progress the next stage of detailed technical design to the point of tendering the works and awarding a construction contract is over £1m.

Muse therefore sought an agreement from the Council to allow them to proceed to incur the costs on the basis that, should the Council decide not to progress with the scheme for any reason, Muse is indemnified against its abortive costs in preparing detailed technical design - ie. Muse would be compensated.

The paper adds: "Muse has stated its commitment to continue to progress the scheme with or without an agreement to progress detailed technical design at this stage. However, without an agreement this is likely to progress at a slower pace as Muse will work to secure occupiers before committing to detailed technical design resulting in development stages progressing sequentially."

In 2019, a 250 year lease with Muse was proposed. The agreement included an option for the developer to ask the Council to take an over-riding lease of the scheme. Reducing some of the risks for the developer, this would involve the authority subletting and collecting rents from operators, which would generate an income stream to fund the head lease costs.

Detailed technical design is due to start in October 2021.

Forge Island website

Images: RMBC


Mr me October 14, 2021 at 1:22 PM  

If this development was in any other town/city, we'd already be eating popcorn and watching flicks.The speed of development in Rotherham is so slow,it's unreal!

Anonymous,  October 15, 2021 at 8:04 AM  

I wonder if weatherspoons will be opening up ?

Anonymous,  October 15, 2021 at 12:38 PM  

What I can't understand is, development is supposed to be s leisure destination,yet no bowling? Surely another missed opportunity,I'm pretty sure there's room on there, after all,why dose development need a car park ,when there's car parks all over town centre,and they're free in evenings?

Ziggy,  October 15, 2021 at 2:15 PM  

Bowling as a sport is declining on participation numbers, there is already an under utilized centre. Generally people don't like to walk for parking, its like saying park at Retail World and walk to Great Eastern Way - I wouldn't. Ultimately the offering has to match local competition to survive, so needs a car park.

Tom,  October 15, 2021 at 3:47 PM  

The whole site needs to be raised up above flood levels so an undercroft 350 space car park is being created under the development. The council said last year that parking for cinema users would be free.

Anonymous,  October 15, 2021 at 4:34 PM  

Yet a bowling centre opened only today in Barnsleys new Glassworks development along with a 13 screen cinema.As said many times before, Rotherham always gets things too small and lacking.

Anonymous,  October 15, 2021 at 4:36 PM  

Days of car are coming to an end.Why need for car park ,when there's a multi storey just over road,taxi rank,bus station,next to train/tram station.Climate change is real,use public transport.

Anonymous,  October 15, 2021 at 4:40 PM  

Tom.Toen centre as loads of free parking in evenings,also next to bus station,train and tram stations and taxi ranks.Public transport use should be encouraged.Also if I go out to cinema,and have a bite to eat,I like many like a few drinks,so car use is out of question anyhow.

Anonymous,  October 16, 2021 at 11:40 PM  

All the other multiplex cinemas in the area have carparks, and the majority travel to the cinema by car, so having an on site car park is a must. I appreciate there are town center carparks nearby however the distance would discourage some people from choosing Rotherham over a cinema with adjacent parking. People who prefer to travel by public transport still have the option to do so, but by including a car park the development has more chance of attracting a wider group of people and being a success.

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