Fashion shop Zara "ideal" for Cheltenham Municipal Offices
FASHION store Zara could open its doors at the home of borough council chiefs.
Cheltenham's shopping boss Martin Quantock is pushing for the opening of the international clothing company at the Municipal Offices.
He says it will add to Cheltenham's "vibrancy" and give the town centre the "full deck of cards" in big name shopping.
Zara is said to have shown an interest in Cheltenham for some time, but has been put off by the lack of suitable space in the right locations.
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However, if plans to sell off the Municipal Offices are approved, council workers will move to a new modern town centre location.
This could result in a new hotel and shops moving in, and Zara could be the flagship store to draw in the crowds. Zara, which sells women's, men's and children's clothing, is now one of the world's biggest fashion retailers.
Mr Quantock, town centre manager, said the Promenade was the ideal location for the Spanish fashion store.
He said welcoming Zara would be the missing piece of the jigsaw after H&M opens in the revamped Regent Arcade next spring.
Mr Quantock said: "We've got all the main High Street shops, except Zara.
"I'd love to have it but there's not been a big enough unit in the right location.
"If the council finally decides to vacate the municipal buildings, there could be an ideal vacancy there.
"The shops side of The Promenade is very vibrant – we have no empty units and it shows people want to be there.
"But the other side is dead as it's just offices – if the municipal building became vacant for commercial use you could start recreating the same vibrancy."
Mr Quantock said every retailer looked for the right location and right size of unit.
"If Zara can only get one of these things it won't come – it needs to tick all the boxes," he said. "The Promenade is the best and most prominent location for Zara's type of merchandise and is where you'd expect to see it.
"People are attracted to the name, which does have a certain ring. People are very loyal to brands."
Cheltenham development task force management director Jeremy Williamson agreed that Zara was "a popular store absent from the Cheltenham retail offer".
He said: "The Promenade is extremely sought after and many retailers wait for vacancies to occur.
"The idea of using the western side for commercial use falls in line with the central town ambition outlined in 2010 and it would no doubt be of interest to a host of retailers but it does, of course, assume that the Municipal Offices are relocated, and, equally, that any future proposals recognise the historic sensitivities of the site."
Cheltenham's Fashion and Beauty (FAB) project director Hayley Anderson-Dixon said: "Zara would make a massive stance in Cheltenham.
"We have some amazing stores across the town and all we need now to cap everything is Zara."
Cheltenham Borough Council head of property David Roberts said options to relocate were being explored and would be presented to Cabinet for a final decision.
"We're not actively marketing the building, although inquiries and approaches are periodically made from interested parties which indicate that alternative uses would have a significant positive economic impact on the town centre," he said.
A Zara spokesperson would only say it opened in locations which "feel right for us".
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