RLAM/IBRC picks Hammerson for Croydon's Whitgift

By Paul Norman - Monday, April 02, 2012 11:47

Royal London Asset Management and IBRC Assurance Company (formerly Anglo Irish Bank) have selected Hammerson as their preferred partner for the Whitgift Centre, Croydon.

The joint venture has signed an exclusive agreement with Hammerson as the preferred partner for the management and redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre, Croydon.

Jones Lang LaSalle was appointed by RLAM and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (Anglo Irish Bank) controlled by Whitgift Trust to find a partner for the redevelopment of the mall in December.

Together the parties have a 75% stake in the long leasehold of the centre.

JLL shortlisted four - Westfield, Lend Lease, Grosvenor and Hammerson.

The partners will now need to work to find a solution alongside Australian shopping centre giant Westfield which has separately entered an exclusive agreement with the Whitgift Foundation, the freehold owner, to explore redevelopment options for the centre.

The parties said that Hammerson is already a stakeholder in Croydon through its ownership of the Centrale Shopping Centre and the merger of the two interests will “create a unique opportunity to bring about a game-changing event for the benefit the whole town”.

They added: “This will create an exciting prospect with enormous potential for public realm improvements and an holistic approach to the regeneration and development of the town centre. Hammerson’s experience in similar projects such as the Bullring in Birmingham and Highcross in Leicester, together with their strong retailer relationships, bodes well for Croydon’s prospects.”

The Whitgift Centre provides approximately 580,000 sq ft of shiops comprising 154 shop units, department stores and a supermarket, and attracts around 28m shoppers annually.

In a joint statement, RLAM and IBRCAC commented: “The Whitgift Centre lies at the heart of Croydon and its successful redevelopment will be a crucial element in the regeneration of the town itself. This consideration underlined every step of our rigorous process of selecting the best partner for the job.

“The quality of submissions from all parties was very high, although in Hammerson we recognised a partner who could demonstrate a long-term commitment to reasserting Croydon as a centre of retail excellence through a combination of redevelopment and organic growth. Of equal importance, Hammerson possess the necessary resources to complete a project of this scale successfully.”

Lawrence Hutchings, Hammerson’s managing director of UK Retail, said: “We have a vision to kick start the much needed retail-led regeneration of Croydon and the key to that is uniting the retail core.

"Croydon is a fantastic location: the transport infrastructure is excellent, the retail opportunity is immense and through our work on Centrale, Croydon Council has a welcoming attitude to long-term, active investors. Together with RLAM and IBRCAC we plan to deliver a step change for Croydon town centre.”

pnorman@costar.co.uk

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