Leeds Merrion Centre’s £50m facelift enters final phase

An artist's impression of the renewed facade of Merrion House overlooking Leeds First Direct Arena.
An artist's impression of the renewed facade of Merrion House overlooking Leeds First Direct Arena.
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An artist’s impression of a 50-year-old Leeds shopping centre’s new look has been revealed as it reaches the final phase of a £50million facelift.

The Merrion Centre, which was the largest indoor shopping centre in the UK when it opened in 1964, will see the refurbishment and extension of the Merrion House office building, an upgrade of its multi-storey car park and overhaul of its exterior facing Leeds First Direct Arena.

A new image of how 12-storey Merrion House will look once its £30m overhaul is complete has been released to show its arena facade. The grey office block’s transformation will include a recladding of its exterior and the construction of a glazed extension to offer 170,000 sq ft of office space. Work starts in 2015.

Edward Ziff, chairman and chief executive of complex owners Town Centre Securities (TCS), now runs the company his father Arnold Ziff founded in the late 1950s which grew to create the Merrion Centre.

He said: “Much of the success of the centre over the last 50 years has come from my father’s determination and tenacity.

“We are delighted that alongside our brand new tenants, a number of our key occupiers have decided to commit themselves to the long term future of the centre, that’s a real testament to my father’s legacy.”

The ongoing redevelopment work has already seen £12m spent on the Merrion Centre’s Merrion Way facade which it has dubbed the ‘Arena Quarter Leisure Development’.

A spread of businesses have taken up space in the units, most recently including LAB Bar and Korean dining experience Bulgogi Grill.

As part of the revamp, £8m is being spent renovating the Merrion Centre’s multi-storey car park to include structural repairs, improved signage, LED lighting and contactless pay stations, while next year will see a £5m investment in the Merrion Hotel which closed last year.

Mr Ziff added: “One of the biggest reasons why I think Merrion succeeded was that back in those early days my father saw the value of car parking and he built a 1,100-space car park, which was twice the size that the city corporation had earmarked.

“It is fitting that in its 51st year the car park has seen TCS’s biggest Merrion investment to date.”

As a whole the Merrion Centre is now 98 per cent let and has welcomed over 7.2m visitors so far this year, which is a 10 per cent increase on last year’s footfall figures to this point.

See page 28 in today’s Yorkshire Evening Post for more on Town Centre Securities’ latest financial results.

50 YEARS IN BUSINESS

The Merrion Centre has celebrated half a century serving Leeds this year.

Having opened in 1964, the growing facility marked the occasion in style by handing out free chocolate, bringing in children’s entertainers and giving shoppers the chance to win £1,000 of free giveaways.

The goodies included VIP concert tickets at Leeds First Direct Arena and food and drink prizes.

As part of the celebrations, Krystyna Spink, from Cross Gates, won a YEP-backed competition to find a new piece of artwork to go on display in the centre.

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