6:00 a.m. on January 5, 2022
Six years ago, the future of Anglia Retail Park near Bury Road at the northwest entrance to Ipswich looked grim.
Its largest store, B&Q, had announced plans to close and this followed other park closures during the credit crunch between 2008 and 2012. It was difficult to see what the future held for ARP.
But the former owners of the park moved quickly to attract more tenants and reinvigorate it. The Range, Go Outdoors and Bounce Trampoline and Play Center have taken over the old DIY hypermarket.
At the end of 2017, the park was purchased by Ipswich Borough Assets (IBA), the commercial real estate company set up by the Borough Council to generate rental income to finance municipal services.
IBA paid £ 42million for the park – and since then has continued to invest.
By the time he took it over, most of the units were occupied, but since its purchase new names have appeared – Smyths Toys, Costa Coffee and Burger King.
The old Pizza Hut unit is slated to reopen later this month as a family owned Tim Hortons restaurant, creating around 50 jobs, and the old Carphone warehouse is being taken over by Taco Bell. Costa is set to expand with the construction of a new drive-thru extension.
But the biggest expansion is still underway – an application to build a new Lidl supermarket on the site of the old B&Q Garden Center is due to be filed with Ipswich Council shortly.
Union adviser Colin Kreidewolf is president of IBA and said that the park’s rebirth was truly a virtuous circle – as more buyers were drawn in, the company was able to secure better terms from its tenants .
He said: “The success of the business park has allowed us to invest in it – improving the park, largely redesigning it and making it more attractive. It is becoming an increasingly popular destination to visit.
“If we get permission to build a new Lidl here, that will give it a bigger boost. You will get people coming to the supermarket for their groceries, but they could combine this visit with a trip to Dunelm or The Range – or stop for a coffee in Costa. “
In addition to Anglia Retail Park, IBA also owns Beardmore Park in Martlesham Heath, which includes the large Marks and Spencer grocery store.
Mr Kreidewolf said shopping parks appeared to have weathered the Covid pandemic better than other malls – people seemed to like being able to run quick errands and get straight back to their cars.
Local MP Dr Dan Poulter said he had mixed feelings about IBA’s ownership of Anglia Retail Park: “I am concerned that the boards are committing large sums of money to the Anglia Retail Park. investments like this, that they have the expertise to manage their investment.
“That said, the developments at Anglia Retail Park have created hundreds of jobs and given this part of Ipswich a real boost. region.”
There are also fears that the success of the business parks on the outskirts of the city may move the downtown business that the borough is trying to protect – but Mr Kreidewolf said the two retail concepts could coexist.
He said: “Downtowns will always be better for independent stores – but a lot of retailers want big box units that you can walk to directly, they just aren’t interested in a relatively small store in the downtown. city.”