Entrepreneur unveils plans to return Empress Building in Mexborough to ‘former glory’ for businesses and community
Six months since acquiring the Empress Building in Mexborough, local entrepreneur Jason Mace ha snow unveiled his expansion plans for the building’s future.
Jason, who is managing director of Gala Tent, has set aside a budget of £150k to refurbishment the former ballroom and dance hall into a hub of business, health and community activity.
Dating back to the 1920s, the building was built to mirror the dance halls in places like Blackpool and for decades acted as a hub of social activity in the area. However, in recent years it has fallen into disrepair.
Jason has already started to refurbish the building to benefit its existing tenants, including the Personal Training Room, Grafters Ironworks gym, Sally Salter sports massage and Micky’s Athletic Boxing Club.
This includes replacing its damaged and rotten timber windows with new PVC-u windows to enhance its appearance and make it more energy efficient for tenants and customers using the building.
Work is already underway to refurbish what was formerly the sports shop at the front of the building into a coffee lounge, which Jason is hoping to lease to a local independent business or entrepreneur.
He is also upgrading other empty rooms in the building for new businesses to lease, including an aesthetics clinic called Solo Aesthetics, where customers will be able to undergo beauty or cosmetic treatments.
Jason explained:“This is a well-known building in this area where many people have fond memories of spending their evenings or weekends in years gone by.
“I think it’s important that buildings like this are not lost to the community and so I am looking forward to returning it to its former glory, particular the ballroom which is looking tired and falling into disrepair.
“We want the building to be a business and community hub and the new coffee shop will be an important part of this.”
One of the organisations based at the Empress Buildings is the charity Dearne Valley Personal Development Centre, of which Jason has since become a trustee.
Dearne Valley Personal Development Centre is managed by John Irwin, a former Featherweight boxing champion who won the Gold medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand, amongst many other national and international titles.
John Irwin, trustee/manager at Dearne Valley Personal Development Centre, said: “We’re really pleased to have Jason as a Trustee of our charity and are excited about his plans for the building.
“We have so many success stories of where we have helped young people to turn their lives around through boxing and fitness and helping them to develop a positive attitude to work.”
Peter Atkinson, MBE and trustee of Dearne Valley Personal Development Centre, added: “We need more public funding to ensure the project is able to keep running. It is a real challenge for organisations like Dearne Valley Personal Development Centre to access funding but the difference that this place can make to young people’s lives is incredible.”