Preston’s Animate scheme 75% full after three restaurant chains commit to lettings

CGI of Hollwyood Bowl in Animate

Animate, Preston’s £40m city centre leisure and entertainment complex, has reached 75% occupancy after three well-known restaurants signed up for the scheme.

The triple signing sees more than 18,000 sq ft of leisure space taken at the landmark city centre scheme which is being delivered for Preston City Council by its development partner, Maple Grove Developments.

The three operators, all of which are new to Preston, include Italian restaurant Zizzi which is taking 3,250 sq ft on the main terrace which fronts Preston’s market canopy, Latin American bar and restaurant Las Iguanas, and world buffet operator Cosmo which will take 11,000 sq ft on the upper floor.

The scheme’s restaurant offer will complement the two lead anchor operators, Hollywood Bowl, which has signed on for the 16-lane bowling alley and gaming zone, and Arc Cinema which has taken 30,000 sq ft for an eight-screen venue.

Main contractor, Preston-based Eric Wright Construction, is set to start work on the construction phase in January 2023 and the restaurants are expected to be operational once the scheme opens in late 2024.

Located in the city’s Harris Quarter, Animate was given the go-ahead by Preston City Council earlier in October and in addition to the main leisure anchors will offer five primary restaurants plus a street food hub and competitive social space, significantly enhancing the city centre’s retail, leisure and cultural offer.

Animate will also feature a new underground car park with 164 spaces, with improvements being delivered to the surrounding public realm, improved pedestrian links, a changing places facility as well as enhanced landscaping, tree planting and street lighting.

John Brady. of letting agency Brady’s. said: “Given its size and large student population the city offers potential for a far wider array of restaurants and bars. Animate will help address this and we’re delighted to welcome all three restaurants to Animate.”

Marc Ward, head of acquisitions for Azzurri Group, which owns Zizzi, said: “Preston has been a long-standing target for Zizzi. We have been working with Maple Grove and Preston City Council for many years to bring this development to fruition and are very pleased to be part of this exciting leisure and restaurant hub at the centre of this major UK city.”

Leader of Preston City Council, Cllr Matthew Brown, said: “The strength of these three popular restaurants agreeing to sign before the main construction phase begins, is testament to this game-changing development which is now 75% let. This shows an exceptional level of confidence in a scheme that will make a big difference to the regeneration of Preston’s leisure, entertainment and cultural offer.

“Animate will remain in the ownership of the council for the people of Preston and will be central in delivering secure, long term jobs, skills and training opportunities, and will boost footfall into the city centre, supporting our cultural economy and retail core. As part of the construction and development phase local suppliers will be a significant feature alongside local community initiatives further supporting our vision of an inclusive economy.”

The scheme is part-funded by Towns Fund investment (£3.4m) and City Deal (£3.25m). Animate will provide more than 140 long term skilled jobs for local people, including construction employment and training opportunities throughout the building works.

Letting agents Bradys and CBRE advised on all three deals for Maple Grove Developments.

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