A MULTI-MILLION pound project will help transform a shopping centre in Leeds ahead of its 50th anniversary.
The Merrion Centre, next to the new First Direct Arena, is currently undergoing a £10m transformation.
The ‘New ‘Front’ scheme, which is where the Merrion Market used to be on Merrion Way and Wade Lane, will include bars, cafés and restaurants, as well as a 24-hour gym.
It is hoped the investment will help attract concert-goers visiting the £60m First Direct Arena, located opposite the shopping centre.
Already signed up for the development are Pan-Asian buffet restaurant COSMO, which will open a 12,500sq ft site in Easter 2014, Costa Coffee and Pure Gym.
Due to open in the autumn, it will be the second 24-hour facility in the city centre from Yorkshire-based Pure Gym, taking up 21,000sq ft.
The 1,000 space multi-storey car park, operated by Town Centre Car Parks, will also undergo a complete refurbishment and upgrade having already seen the installation of a new ticket management system.
Helen Green, associate director for Town Centre Securities PLC, which owns the centre, said she has already seen the impact of the neighbouring arena on visitor numbers.
“When Bruce Springsteen played last week, the footfall was 36,000 people – the equivalent of a busy Christmas shopping day,” she said.
“The new system that has been installed meant that 300 cars got out of the car park in just half an hour. That’s one car leaving every six seconds.”
She added: “The Merrion Centre is 50 years old next year. What I think is particularly good about it is that it’s had the same developer that whole time and it is a classic mixed-use scheme, with office buildings as well as leisure and entertainment.
“We already have a solid customer base here but the arena will be the icing on the cake.
“With 150 events a year, this will be a chance for people to join in with the buzz of the arena, which will be great.”
The Merrion Centre currently attracts 10 million visitors a year.