The news that Fleet's flagship shopping centre is up for sale for £28m has been welcomed by those in the town who are keen to see new investment injected into Hart
The revelation that Fleet’s flagship shopping centre is up for sale at £28 million could spell good news for the town.
Colliers International, the managing agent for Hart Shopping Centre, confirmed it was on the market but declined to comment further.
However, Hart District Council has said it is keen to meet with investors and Fleet Business Partnership chairman Kevin Whibley feels any sale could be ‘good news’.
“I am very pleased Hart District Council is keen to meet with investors to ensure the long term investment and viability that is required to bring the centre back,” he said.
“It is my hope that any buyer sets a price that allows for the investment that is required.”
Mr Whibley, who owns Captured Moment photography business in Fleet Road, said that while the shopping centre currently struggles to fill its units, Fleet High Street is on the up.
“We have seen considerable investment made recently by High Street units,” he added. “When doors close others are quick to open. The sad loss of Fleet Photographic has seen a new arrival in the form of 217 Menswear, a classic tailors shop with a modern feel.
“When Hart Travel consoli-dated with Kristena Shoes, Sugar Plum stepped in to create a beautiful boutique.”
The centre was officially opened in 1991 by HRH The Duchess of York.
Shopping centre manager Carolanne Baker said the building has had a number of owners over the years, including Frogmore Properties and Bourne End Properties. An offshore company called Barkay took it over in around 2001 and the current owners are Belfast-based William Ewart Properties.
She said the sale would be good for the town. “No one will buy the centre unless they are willing to invest in it. Enticing new tenants is easily done if you’ve got a bit of money.”
Hart corporate director Daryl Phillips said the council had sought to engage with the owners of the centre over the past 18 months and had met with the owners as well as key occupiers such as Waitrose.
“Our position is that we are keen to work with all parties,” said Mr Phillips.
“We have therefore kept in active contact with the agents who are marketing the centre and have offered to meet any prospective purchasers to see how we can facilitate the necessary investment into the centre so that its long term viability can be secured."