Could restaurant move into closed Little Waitrose in Ipswich?
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich town centre should see a significant bounce-back after the pandemic as interest is growing in its empty buildings such as Little Waitrose.
The council is in advanced talks with a potential tenant to take over the former Little Waitrose unit at the bottom of the Corn Exchange.
Council leader David Ellesmere said: "We are in advanced negotiations with an operator, but nothing has been signed yet so I can't give details - it's a very positive sign though.
"We're seeing quite a bit of interest from businesses looking to open, expand or move to new premises in the town centre at the moment."
It is understood that the former Little Waitrose could be replaced by a restaurant chain that also operates as a takeaway - with the Cornhill potentially developing as a restaurant quarter following the opening of The Botanist in the Old Post Office Building.
Another borough-owned building that has had some interest is St Stephen's Church, the former home of the town's Tourist Information Centre which closed last summer in one of the first council budget cuts introduced at the height of the first lockdown.
The borough owns a significant number of commercial buildings in the town centre, some directly like the Little Waitrose site in the Corn Exchange and some through its property arm Ipswich Borough Assets - among its properties is the new Deichmann shoe store.
Ipswich Central chair Terry Baxter said he was aware that there was considerable interest in several properties in the heart of the town.
He said: "We know there are problems, but it is clear that businesses are looking at Ipswich and looking for opportunities to invest as we come out of this.
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"It would be very good to have more places to eat and drink in the town centre and it is good to hear that there are local and national companies considering opening here."