The first businesses could be operating from Plymouth’s former Millennium nightclub and cinema building by mid-2022 as work accelerates on a £4m project to transform it into a music venue and work units.
The gigantic Union Street edifice has now been made secure and pest-free and owner Nudge Community Builders has even used the building for events and as the set for two atmospheric music videos for rock acts The Native and Kris Barras Band.
Phase One of the revamp is now on the horizon. This will see between six and eight business units created in the ground floor of the former entertainment hotspot, depending on the sizes needed by tenants.
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Hannah Sloggett, Nudge director, said businesses have already been inquiring about taking space in the ground floor of the building.
She said: “We are looking to be on site in the next few months and looking to have people operating from there by next summer.”
The ground floor space sits underneath the former cinema auditorium, which is intended to be turned into a 1,500-capacity music venue.
Nudge is not planning on a major make-over, with it planned to attract small-scale manufacturers.
“It will be quite basic,” said Mrs Sloggett. “So it will be for industrial type uses. Light manufacturing or production type uses.
“But we will see who comes forward. We have had a few people seriously interested.”
Work on the auditorium will take place later and Mrs Sloggett said: “Phase Two is the auditorium. But we will have some test events over the next year. We will see how it goes.”
Nudge, set up and run by people in the local Stonehouse community, acquired the colossal building, at one time earmarked for a GOD TV studio, alongside London-based workspace developer Eat Work Art in September 2020.
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The organisations paid £800,000 for the freehold of the site after a year-long negotiation with its owner.
At one time the two organisations were vying to buy the pile but decided to pool resources and purchase it with a 50/50 split.
Nudge’s £400,000 was provided by a grant from Power to Change, an independent trust that supports community businesses, and an interest-free £285,000 loan from The Rank Foundation, a charitable body that supports enterprises.
Eat Work Art, which has already renovated run-down buildings in London and Plymouth, is providing £2million for the redevelopment, with the remaining £2million to be raised by Nudge.
It has been in talks with Plymouth City Council and other potential funders and is preparing a community share offer, having run a similar and successful scheme to fund renovation of the former Clipper pub in Union Street, with shares available from £50 each.
No time frame has been put on the Millennium building project, but Nudge hopes to advance it piecemeal as it has done with other buildings it has acquired in the Union Street area: Union Corner, the Clipper and the Plot.
Nudge had been eyeing up the Millennium building since the days when it was leased to GOD TV.
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It’s strategic position, on the city centre end of Union Street, near planned developments at Colin Campbell Court and the Millbay Boulevard, and that it had been in effect disused for 15 years since it stopped being a nightclub, meant it was ripe for development.
Nudge has said that as commercial operators had not come forward it was key that a business that could develop it and support the community took it on.
The building began life as The Gaumont Palace cinema in 1931, and later was one of Union Street’s biggest and busiest nightclubs during the 1980s and 1990s, going under names such as Blondz, the Warehouse and Millennium.
It closed in the early 2000s and was later leased to GOD TV, which started reconstruction work but then pulled operations from the city.
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Plans move forward at Plymouth's former Millennium nightclub