Transformation of Tower Ramparts shopping centre into new-look Sailmakers mall in full swing
The £4million rebuild of the Tower Ramparts shopping centre in Ipswich has moved up a gear.
The centre will be reborn in the autumn as Sailmakers to celebrate the town’s maritime heritage but is continuing to trade as normal in the interim.
Shopping centre manager Mike Sorhaindo is delighted with the progress being made by locally-based contractors Barnes Construction.
He said: “They have made an excellent start and the work is proceeding with minimum disruption and all our stores are trading as usual.
“We have had a very positive reaction from shoppers to the planned changes. They see it as a very positive move for the town and one of a number of developments taking place which will revitalise Ipswich.
“Already we are looking forward to the arrival of major jewellery retailer Pandora later this year and the refurbishment was a factor in their decision to open their first store in Ipswich while we have also seen another of our top retailers, Topshop, carry out a major refit.
“We are also pleased that the contract went to Barnes Construction because it means the money being invested in the centre is also being invested in the local economy with all that that means in terms of jobs.
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“Barnes have a workforce which is based in this area, they use local sub-contractors and supply chains and this was important to us in our choice of contractor.”
The plans have been welcomed as a major vote of confidence in the town by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce who said that the investment would be a boost to the local economy and will underline Ipswich’s credentials as an important retail centre.
As part of the scheme, new entrances will be installed on to Tavern Street and Tower Ramparts while the centre will be renamed Sailmakers to tap into the area’s rich maritime heritage.
Already all the ceilings of the centre have been taken down – exposing wires and ducting – and this week work has also started on the outside entrances.
The design of the new entrances will based on the historic Thames barges that once sailed into the town with transparent sail shapes projecting high out into the street, to replace the original green structures.
There will also be a major internal refurbishment and new toilet facilities with new escalators, stairs, and lifts being installed in a bid to make the centre feel larger and more roomy for visiting shoppers.