City Buzz: New ‘XYZ’ building set for old Leeds casino site

An artist's impression of the proposed XYZ building at Leeds Dock.
An artist's impression of the proposed XYZ building at Leeds Dock.
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IT’S been one of the major thorns in the side of the regeneration of Leeds Dock. The question is – what can we do with the old Alea casino site?

The huge building has stood empty for some time, summing up the turbulent history of the area.

After previously opening under the name Clarence Dock back in 2008, the scheme was full of grand ambition and razzle dazzle but ultimately many of the buildings lay empty.

Luckily, the site got snapped up by Allied London in 2012, and since then they have been working away carefully planning how to rejuvenate the area.

Not only have they changed the name twice (from New Dock to Leeds Dock), they have also organised regular markets, cinema screenings and pop-up events, which have become increasingly popular.

And now they’ve revealed their latest plans to transform the old Alea casino site.

As part of their Leeds Dock masterplan, the company aims to provide a ‘high-quality, workspace concept’ – known simply as the XYZ building.

Last week, local residents were invited to a public exhibition at the dock’s new Google Digital Garage where they could discuss the proposals with experts and pose questions.

According to Allied London, the new XYZ Building plans to offer a ‘dynamic office eco-system that nurtures a new workspace culture.’

The proposed development has also been designed to ‘meet the need for high quality new office accommodation in Leeds city centre’.

The plans will see a vertical extension added to the existing building along with external alterations.

Designers say their vision aims to improve the local environment whilst reflecting the appearance of the existing buildings.

The first XYZ building is currently under construction at Allied London’s Spinningfields development in Manchester and there are plans to roll out the concept to other cities around the world.

Allied London chief executive officer, Mike Ingall, said: ‘‘Put simply, XYZ is a building block for enterprise.

“The vision has been, and always will be, global. XYZ is a crucible for ideas.”

The fact that Leeds could be one of the first cities in the world for one of these buildings is pretty exciting, although the details of what it will exactly involve are yet to be revealed.

Leeds’ XYZ building will join plans for a series of new shops, restaurants and an all-year-round programme of events that aims to put Leeds Dock firmly on the map.

The idea is to transform the area into a mixed-use neighbourhood in Leeds city centre.

There’s no denying that Leeds Dock has taken huge steps in the right direction, from the introduction of the free water taxi services to the new ‘city bus’ service and weekend events.

And the fact that Google Digital Garage – a multimillion pound initiative – opened there recently gives a clear indication of the confidence Allied London and other companies are starting to have in the area.

It’s good to see some faith is being restored in what is a beautiful part of the city centre.

Let’s hope this is another step in the right direction for Leeds Dock.