A Facebook post from the firm redeveloping Gloucester’s King’s Quarter shows plans for a successful transformation of a former department store, but does it signify it has an appetite for the city’s Debenhams building?
Following confirmation that Debenhams in Gloucester is to close after the Boohoo buyout, a source has told SoGlos this week that talks were not ‘just underway’, but that the former department store was ‘under offer’.
Logic might suggest the firm already leading the multi-million pound King’s Quarter project would have factored the biggest building flanking the redevelopment into its plans.
A social media post by that same company, Reef Group, shows it has an appetite for taking on challenges near identical to the old Debenhams store.
Boswells, once Oxford’s largest family-run department store, closed in 2020, but Reef’s post reveals how it will re-invent it as a four-star boutique hotel with a co-working space, restaurant, bar and gym.
Reef Group, which last week saw Gloucester City Council sign-off the £107 million budget for it to transform King’s Quarter into The Forum would not comment.
Neither would Aviva, owners of the building.
Councillor Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, owners of King’s Square and Eastgate Shopping Centre and which hired Reef Group, said: ‘We are keeping a close eye on the developments surrounding Debenhams.
‘Its size and location means that its re-use is very important to the life of our city, our ambitious plans for Kings Square and the nearby Forum digital campus.’
Quattro Design Architects was consulted by Reef Group on The Forum development and has previously presented plans for the former Debenhams building showing as number of options not dissimilar to those for Oxford’s Boswells.
It would also not comment on whether it knew about the potential new owner, but it did have this to say.
‘We are quietly confident someone will step forward to develop it,’ said the Gloucester Quays-based firm.
By Andrew Merrell