Johnny Caddick, managing director at Moda Living and director at Caddick Group, the firms behind the £300m So Yo development in the east of the city centre, said that having more people permanently based in the centre of Leeds will lead to more investment into the region.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Caddick said the new scheme, along with other planned residential developments around the city, will lead to increased inward investment into Leeds and sustain the opening of new bars and restaurants.
He said: “For Leeds city centre to be sustainable we need quality jobs but also quality homes.
“It is vital. Leeds needs its 24-hour economy.
“It creates that vibrancy on an evening, everyone will stick around and not just leave the city.
“That drives footfall, creates an atmosphere, makes the city vibrant and safe. And on weekends too, you will have people milling around the streets and creating an atmosphere.
“That is what residential does and it should not be underestimated as a priority for the city.”
Leeds 'playing catch-up'
Mr Caddick’s firm is working on a pipeline of residential developments across the UK. He says that in terms of the shift towards city centre living Leeds is behind most other cities but that this was likely to begin to change.
“Leeds has got to get people excited about living in the city centre again and I think seeing new products will do that,” he said.
“I think it is also a momentum thing. We are very excited about it, we really think this could be the tip of the iceberg.
“City centre living can be a catalyst for office occupiers, for bars, and restaurants. It is a big regional opportunity.”
Impact of the financial crisis
A number of city centre residential developments were built in Leeds during the run-up to the financial crisis but the momentum stalled in its aftermath.
Mr Caddick believes that this not only paused commercial development but harmed the city’s economy at large.
“There was also a brain drain from the city, a lot of young professionals moved straight to London. As well as the existing talent, the student retention rate was down.
“There were very little jobs in the region.
“In the years subsequent to that we have seen new jobs created by firms which have relocated to the region.
“You can now have a quality job and have great career profession in the city.”
How the new complex will look
The 515-home complex in east Leeds that is being developed has been dubbed New York Square after nearby New York Road. As well as apartments it will also feature on-site flexible workspaces, a cycle hub, and health and wellbeing facilities, with access to everything included in the rent.
The development will also ultimately feature a new hotel and a multi-storey car park once completed.
Myles Hartley, of Caddick Developments, added that he expected it to attract a broad range of age groups.
“The broadest market is 25-35 but we do not see that as being the bookends. We believe it will go beyond that. A lot of people who are downsizing, empty nesters a lot of people who are looking at coming back to city centre living. That is what is needed to be done in order to make these communities sustainable.”