Middlesbrough’s flagship Cleveland Centre has been snapped up by the council for £12m – just over five years after it changed hands for £85m.
As part of a drive to “secure the town centre’s long-term future”, Middlesbrough Council has confirmed completion of a deal for the well-known shopping centre.
The move has been hailed by Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston, who said the council “stepping in to save” the centre was another important step in ensuring long-term jobs and breathing new life into the town centre.
He said it was the latest in a series of “innovative” acquisitions enabling Middlesbrough Council to ambitiously manage the future of the town centre.
It follows the authority’s purchase of the strategically important Captain Cook Square and House of Fraser sites.
The Cleveland Centre has been the town’s retail focal point since it opened in 1973, covering 30 per cent of the town centre’s overall retail space.
Mr Preston said the council’s investment strategy would help transform the future of the town centre through a better balance of retail, leisure and residential space.
Over the longer term, it is planned that a healthier mix across the town will help to attract investment and increase footfall, revitalising the centre of the town and delivering much-needed economic benefits.
Mr Preston said: “A stronger town centre is essential for the prosperity of everyone in Middlesbrough. It’s better for jobs, better for mental wellbeing and it helps the council provide the best possible services.
“Buying such a fundamental town centre site makes absolute sense as we try and futureproof the centre of Middlesbrough.
“Struggling town centres isn’t just a Middlesbrough problem. High streets everywhere are having a tough time and this savvy move makes sure we can be in the control of our own destiny.
“I’m determined that we won’t simply stand by and see what happens. When there’s a solid business case to intervene, we will.”
Mr Preston said the council had “played a patient waiting game, driven a hard bargain and hammered down the price.”
He added: “We’ve purchased a town centre asset that sold for £85m just over five years ago for just £12m. We are stepping in to save it for a fraction of that price to help build a better future for our town.
“We have amazing independent businesses and great places to enjoy a meal or night out with friends.
“We’re also attracting new investment and are making progress every week to make sure central Middlesbrough has the perfect mix of retail, leisure and homes.
“The Cleveland Centre is home to many thriving shops and that will be the case for a long time to come but changing retail patterns means we can no longer rely solely on retail to attract people into our town centre.
“Now that we own the Cleveland Centre along with Captain Cook Square, we can help to consolidate and support our retail offer and look to the future with confidence and ambition.”
More details will be announced in the coming months, he said.