Co-op redevelopment expected to be finished next autumn
The refurbishment of Chesterfield's former Co-op building is expected to be completed by next September, it has been revealed.
Work is currently underway to redevelop the prominent site on Elder Way.
The Â£10.5million project by Jomast Developments Ltd is part of the Northern Gateway scheme led by Chesterfield Borough Council.
When completed, the building - which has stood empty for four years - will include:
â–º Seven ground-floor family restaurants and bars;
â–º A 92-bedroom Premier Inn hotel on the first and second floors;
â–º A health and fitness centre in the basement.
Adam Hearld, commercial director at Jomast Developments Ltd, said: "This has been a difficult and complex project to get off the ground and having resolved a number of pre-development issues we are now delighted to be able to start on what we believe will be an exciting and vibrant leisure scheme in the heart of the town centre.
"We are anticipating completing the comprehensive refurbishment of the former Co-op building in September, 2018, with the Premier Inn, bars, restaurants and gym opening to the public shortly afterwards.
"The borough council's environmental improvements on Elder Way and Knifesmithsgate will complement our scheme by enhancing the setting to this significant investment in Chesterfield town centre. We will co-ordinate our development programme with the borough council throughout 2018.
"These proposals, together with the redeveloped multi-storey car park and wider plans for the Northern Gateway, will be critical in revitalising this part of Chesterfield town centre to provide a really exciting environment for people to visit, stay, eat, drink and work in."
The borough council has supported the private sector companies in the development by gaining a Â£5.83m grant from the Sheffield City Region Investment Fund for landscaping improvements to Elder Way and Knifesmithgate.
Funding is also being sought for further environmental improvements to connect Saltergate with the heart of the town centre.
The Northern Gateway scheme will also see an enterprise zone for small and medium sized businesses on part of the site of the Donut car park and a multi-million pound refurbishment of the existing Saltergate multi-storey car park.
Councillor Amanda Serjeant, the borough council's deputy leader, said: "The Northern Gateway scheme is no longer a plan on a piece of paper, it is a reality.
"From here on the pace of the project will grow as the redevelopment of the former Co-op building will be followed in a few months by us starting work to demolish and replace the Saltergate multi-storey car park, before moving on to other parts of the scheme.
"The old Co-op is a dominant building in the town centre and it has been difficult to see it closed over the past few years. Seeing work start to bring it back into use gives the town a real confidence boost.
"The growth of internet shopping is causing hard times on high streets up and down the country but as people see work progress on this building they will see the northern side of the town centre coming back to life. The customers of this development will support existing town centre shops and help encourage other retailers to open shops to replace those that have closed down."
Peter Swallow, chair of Destination Chesterfield, added: "The start of work on transforming the former Co-op building is a major step forward in the development of the Northern Gateway and the regeneration of the town centre.
"Chesterfield is going through some very exciting times and the redevelopment of the Co-op building is just one of a number of development opportunities that are now coming to fruition which will change the face of the town and change it for the better so that it is equipped it for the future.
"It is a key development in helping increase the vitality of the town centre as well as preparing Chesterfield to take full advantage of the opportunities that the HS2 station will bring with it."
It is estimated the Northern Gateway scheme will create around 500 jobs.