The rise of Debenhams

If you haven’t visited Wolverhampton city centre in a while, you might just be in for a surprise. There are areas of the city that you will no longer recognise – even if your last visit was just a few years back. We’ve covered the various construction projects in Wolverhampton previously, but it’s time to take a look at work on the new Debenhams store that is rising from the ashes of the south side of the Mander Centre. The 1960s building that we knew of as Owen and Owen and TJ Hughes amongst other guises has now gone, demolition seeing to that and the shops that lined the ramps that lead onto St John’s Street / Victoria Street and Bell Street.

TJ Hughes and Tesco gone, the remains of the ramps are visible

Above the ramps, the area that housed Tesco has also been wiped. We’re talking a large area, some 93,000 sq ft according to the Mander Centre – compare that to previous plans for a 70,000 sq ft store at the doomed Summer Row. It is indeed refreshing to see, with internet shopping currently in vogue, so much faith in Wolverhampton from the owners of the Mander Centre and Debenhams. This is no small project – you can’t fail to notice the sheer scale, with cranes rising from Wolverhampton’s skyline visible from miles around.

Assembling the crane The steelwork frame starts to go up

The Mander Centre itself is some way through a refurbishment, with the atrium area being redeveloped. Gone are the central lifts which, when complete, will open out the centre area allowing unhindered views from north to south. A new lift is in place at the Farmers Fold entrance. Unfortunately, the demise of BHS sees the Mander Centre with another empty three storey building. Add onto this the closure of the city centre’s Mothercare store (poor timing saw this disappear alongside BHS last week) and there is a bigger blank canvas than was anticipated. Positives see H&M taking the area that once housed Woolworths and all that space for other big names to step in.

It’s all change in this area at the moment, with shoppers eagerly awaiting the rise of Debenhams – still quite a wait yet though, the new store is scheduled to open in Autumn 2017.

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