Grand Central opens doors for business
Grand Central Birmingham opened its doors to the public for the first time today, welcoming thousands of customers and diners into the UK’s newest premium shopping and dining destination.
Following a five-year, £150m transformation, Grand Central now sits proudly above the magnificent £600m New Street station and is very much open for business. Boasting 66 new shops and restaurants with well over half of them never before seen in the city, Grand Central’s opening hits the city during a month that is so packed full of activity is has earned the moniker of ‘Super September.’
Some of the biggest and best names in shopping have opened at Grand Central, with The White Company, Hobbs, Joules, Foyles, Cath Kidston, Neal’s Yard, and Tiger all coming to the city for the first time. Add to that a new swathe of upmarket dining outlets. Diners can sample the delights of Tapas Revolution, Pho, Crepe Affaire, Frizzenti and Square Pie, for the first time in Birmingham thanks to Grand Central managing to combine a great mix of retail and dining options offering a wide ranging choice for all tastes and budgets.
The anticipation around Grand Central has been growing with rapid speed over the last 12 months as the centre has taken shape. Not only has its development changed the architectural horizon of Birmingham due to its high-gloss mirrored exterior snaking its way from Southside to Stephenson Street, but also its sheer impressive size has dominated the cityscape. At 500,000 square foot, it can comfortably house the 66 retailers and restaurants, as well as one of the biggest John Lewis stores in the UK – a 250,000 sq. ft., four-floored space that comes complete with a spa, its own restaurant, and enough stock to fill the Genting Arena twice over.
The development of Grand Central has created more than 1,000 permanent retail, hospitality, catering and customer service jobs, and is expecting to attract more than 50 million visitors a year. The centre has been brought to life by more than 3,500 construction workers that include builders, electricians, plumbers, shop-fitters, plasterers, as well as everything in between. The build began in 2011 with an initial demolition phase – over 6,000 tonnes of concrete were removed from the Pallasades Shopping Centre to allow the remodelling of what would become Grand Central as well as opening it up to allow the natural light to filter though. The entire process was an environmentally considerate project, with 98% of the material from the demolished Stephenson Street Tower being recycled for use on other building projects.
A stand out piece of the development is the newly unveiled atrium that overlooks the vibrant bustle of the New Street passenger concourse. The new concourse is five times the size of London Euston’s and was rebuilt without any interruption to rail services for the 170,000 passengers who use it every day.
Grand Central is a project that combined some major stakeholder partners from across the city, including Birmingham City Council Network Rail, Mace, DTZ, and John Lewis Partnership.
Jonathan Cheetham, centre manager for Grand Central, said: “This has been brought to life through a culmination of a dedicated, committed group from across the city. It’s a proud day for Birmingham and demonstrates our continued retail power to bring these high quality shops and restaurants to the Birmingham consumer, marking another chapter in the on-going renaissance of our great city.”
Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The arrival of Grand Central provides even more shopping and dining choice for people in the city centre. With its stainless steel facade wrapping around the entire building, Grand Central makes an impressive impact on Birmingham’s ever improving architectural landscape. The creation of over 1000 jobs in retail, hospitality, catering and customer service also provides a significant number of opportunities for local people.
Richard Brown, Grand Central development director, said: “The years of wait have been well worth it. Not only is New Street Station a magnificent new development for passengers and commuters, but Grand Central also offers a unique and unforgettable shopping experience for all. We are proud that Birmingham is at forefront of such an impressive aesthetic design which will be enjoyed and admired by people across the UK and worldwide.”