Martin Smith
Martin Smith

Member Article

The challenges of city centre refurbishment

Martin Smith of Jones Lang LaSalle looks at the logistical challenges of project managing a city centre retail refurbishment.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s Project and Development Services team has completed a major retail refurbishment project in the heart of Newcastle City Centre where high street retailers Urban Outfitters have recently opened their first store in the region. The Grade II listed building, which is situated on the corner of Nelson Street and Grainger Street, presented some logistical challenges for the team at Jones Lang LaSalle.

Jones Lang LaSalle were appointed by landlords, Aviva Investors Pensions Ltd, to project manage the works, which entailed transforming the existing 1980’s internal shell into what is arguably one of Newcastle’s most innovative and exciting retail interiors. The Grade A retail space, which is spread across three storeys, has been creatively designed to provide open spaces featuring high ceilings, exposed rubble walls, two grand staircases and an exposed glass lift shaft giving it a truly urban feel.

The Project and Development Services team at Jones Lang LaSalle had not previously been appointed on a project of this scale in a city centre location and it was the location that presented some of the key difficulties. The property is effectively enclosed on all sides (by Eldon Square to the rear, ground floor tenants below and French Connection next to The Monument), leaving the only access for site deliveries via Grainger Street, where site access is
restricted due to it being a busy shopping parade.

Therefore, in order to receive delivery of building materials the team had to design and erect a unique temporary loading platform above Nelson Street and negotiate with the Local Authority for the temporary removal of one window to Nelson Street within a listed building. To add to the complications they then had to design all construction materials to be sized in order to be accommodated by the opening.

The transformation of the store involved major building works, including demolishing the 2nd floor and restoring it to its original position 2 metres higher, combining the ground and upper floor demises, providing access from all floors onto Grainger Street and exposing the original wall features. The now redundant 1980’s second floor structure was also partly retained to provide further architectural interest. The demolition of the second floor wasn’t without complications for the Jones Lang LaSalle team who had to ensure the ground floor tenants were not affected by the works. This challenge was overcome by the use of a scaffolding ‘crash deck’ that protected the ground floor tenants from falling debris and by adopting a controlled drainage system in each demolition area.

The construction team had to also consider the removal of any material arising from the original first floor’s demolition. This meant that the new lift shaft had to be constructed before all other elements so that all of the materials could be removed from the site via the basement which is linked to Eldon Square’s service yard, rather than endangering the general public by taking demolished materials to ground level via either Grainger or Nelson Street facades.

Martin Smith, Associate at Jones Lang LaSalle said: ‘This is the biggest city centre retail refurbishment project our Project and Development Services team has been appointed to manage. It has been really exciting to be involved in creating such a unique retail space and to have successfully overcome some extremely difficult logistical challenges. We have worked closely with both the client and retailer to ensure that the Urban Outfitters brand is reflected throughout the building and we are delighted with the results, particularly in completing the works on time and within budget’

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Martin Smith .

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