Once-bustling shopping hub The Graftons has closed its doors – but is to be refitted as a single unit and relaunched, with “national operators” already said to be interested.
Shoppers in Altrincham today found they could no longer walk through the shopping centre, with ‘Mall door shut… No access’ signs on the entrance doors.
The closure follows the completion of a relocation process for the businesses that were previously sited in the centre and who wanted to continue trading. Those businesses included independent Soda and Nail Art, a nail salon that reopened on George Street this week.
The formerly 25-unit complex – once home to the likes of Music Zone Direct, Greggs and Rhode Island Coffee – is now completely vacant, meaning the refurbishment work can begin.
That work will start with the erection of an advertising vinyl cladding on the outside of the building, followed by a stripping-out of its contents on February 22nd.
It will then be reconfigured to turn the multi-unit space into a 5,000 sq ft unit to attract one or possibly two retailers.
Edward Schwab, a partner with asset manager Landswood who are acting on behalf of owners Grafton Centre Holdings Ltd, told us they were already actively marketing the building and that there had already been “interest from national operators”.
It is hoped a major retailer or food and drink chain could take over the entire unit, having a double frontage on both the George Street and Stamford New Road sides. There is obvious space for outdoor seating on the Stamford New Road side so it could suit the latter in particular.
He said: “Footfall at the centre dropped steadily after Home Bargains moved in and took over one side – after that it was mainly used as a cut-through rather than as somewhere people shopped.
“We are conscious of how tired the building looks and are now going to be working on the practicalities of sorting that out.
“It is very much a work in progress and we have absolutely not given up on it.”
It is hoped that a new tenant could be in place by at least the summer.
The refurbishment will also see the upper parts of the Graftons converted from derelict office space into 18 two-bed apartments, continuing a growing trend of increased residential space within the town centre.