Operator set to regenerate Grade II-listed city centre venue unveiled
The City of Wolverhampton Council has announced its new preferred operator for the city centre cinema within the Grade II-listed Chubb Buildings.
Independent commercial operator, PDJ Management (PDJ), has been selected as the successful bidder from a group of eight who submitted formal expressions of interest in the Fryer Street venue.
The Light House had closed in November last year, after more than 30 years in operation. Following financial struggles, around 15 staff lost their jobs at what was the only independent arts venue in The Black Country.
PDJ already runs successful cinemas in Worthing (The Dome Cinema), Romford (Premiere Cinema), Kings Lynn (The Majestic Cinema) and Lytham St Annes (Island Cinema) and has put forward a proposal to convert the 6,625 sq ft council-owned space from an out-dated two-screen venue to a newly refurbished four-screen cinema.
The council and PDJ will be making a £2m joint investment in the refurbishment and fit-out programme and entering into a 30-year lease, while the new-look venue is predicted to attract up to 130,000 visitors a year to the city centre at full flow and boost the local economy by half-a-million-pounds annually, with three permanent and 20 to 25 part-time jobs created.
The council is also working closely with the Chubb Buildings landlord, Midlands Industrial Association (MIA), who oversee a range of businesses already within the buildings, on the scheme.
James Jervis, director at PDJ Management said: “We are incredibly enthusiastic about the potential of the venue at the Chubb and excited to be bringing cinema back to the city centre of Wolverhampton. We see this as a significant step for our independent, family run, group of cinemas, opening a site in the Black Country, more than 100 years after our family started its association with cinema in the region through Miles Jervis.
“We hope to see this luxury yet affordable venue prove very popular with the city and we plan on engaging with the local arts community to showcase the best creative talent of Wolverhampton alongside the planned core offering of major, first run releases. This will be a cinema for all, aimed at everyone from families and students to seniors.”
Cllr Stephen Simkins, City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, said: “We had an impressive response to our call out for expressions of interest, which shows there is a strong appetite for leisure opportunities in our city centre.
“I am delighted to announce PDJ as the preferred operator – they are suitably qualified cinema and entertainment experts, and it has been exciting to learn about their vision for the space and their confidence in our city.
“We were particularly impressed with PDJ’s commercial and social value track record which they have sustained in their other venues over a significant period of time – and by their confidence that the new cinema offering will provide accessible and ‘affordable luxury’.
“They have a sound and sustainable plan that will further enhance our arts, culture and entertainment offer for residents and visitors to Wolverhampton.”
Andy Munro, Chairman of Midlands Industrial Association said: “MIA are very pleased to see the space brought back into use and are looking forward to welcoming PDJ Management to the Chubb Building. We were pleased to be part of the selection process, working in partnership with the Council to deliver this outcome. The Chubb Building is one of Wolverhampton’s premier and iconic heritage buildings and we are pleased that PDJ will be part of an already strong array of successful tenants.”