Hull's Fruit Market ripe for big business after Freedom Festival success
HULL'S Freedom Festival has helped reinforce the massive – and largely untapped – commercial potential of one of the city's most up-and-coming areas.
More than 75,000 people headed to the Marina over the weekend to enjoy the creative extravaganza taking place in and around the city's historic former Fruit Market.
The area, and Humber Street in particular, has enjoyed something of a revival since plans for a £100 million regeneration project were shelved as a result of the recession.
This spurred officials at the now-defunct Hull Forward to offer vacated warehouses on temporary leases, prompting the arrival of organisations such as Fruit, the Museum of Club Culture and the Oresome Gallery.
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A major restoration project is now being lined up for the derelict smokehouse in Wellington Street. It is an idea that has already created interest at Simpson's, one of Hull's best-known fish processing firms, which is interested in reopening the historic building as an artisan smokehouse.
Today, Hull law firm Andrew Jackson has been announced as the latest company to relocate to the area as it prepares to move into Marina Court. The move follows a major £600,000 internal refurbishment by the premise's owners, Hull property development specialists the Wykeland Group.
Rob Penrose, managing partner at Andrew Jackson, said: "Marina Court suits our requirements perfectly. It is on a great location on the marina and is in the Fruit Market, an up-and-coming area of the city.
"I believe this area of the city is really going to develop in the future. From my involvement with the World Trade Centre and also from where I live on the Marina, I have seen the Fruit Market develop and there is so much going on there. I don't think many people in the city realise what a great asset it is."
Mr Penrose said the firm had been searching for a new home for several years, with Marina Court meeting all of its requirements. He said: "It's a brilliant location with lots of car parking and is a great building. We are enjoying working with Wykeland and with Chameleon business interiors, who together are providing a great environment to work in."
Dominic Gibbons, managing director of Wykeland Group, said: "As well as the refurbishment of Marina Court, which is attracting a number of quality local and national businesses, we have recently completed the clearance of silt deposits in the Central Dry Dock, within the Fruit Market area, which is now allowing our engineers, Alan Wood & Partners, to undertake a detailed survey of this listed dock, in preparation for redevelopment.
"Architects are also appointed on the Central 4 Digital Innovation building, on land adjacent to the dry dock, which is aimed at small to medium-sized digital businesses.
"This has been brought forward in partnership with Hull City Council, KC, The University of Hull and local creative industries collective Hull Digital.
"These, combined with the wider Fruit Market regeneration, will establish this part of the city centre as the most vibrant area for visitors and cultural, creative and digital businesses."
Built in 1990 by English Estates, Marina Court extends to 39,500sq ft and was purchased by Wykeland last year.
Wykeland's development director Stephen Hudson said: "Marina Court is a landmark location that leaves a lasting impression on visitors to our city and we are delighted that one of Hull's best-known businesses has chosen the premises for its new headquarters.
"Interest in the complex has been high since we announced the refurbishment and we will be making further announcements regarding 'new arrivals' in the coming weeks".
Wykeland's in-house architect, Graham Aitchison, said: "The refurbishment has been extensive and has created a completely different feel to the property with a new lift, new windows throughout, existing office suites being knocked together to create larger floor plates and a general overhaul of the property."
In line with Wykeland's aim to use local companies where possible, Marina Court's refurbishment contract was awarded to Hull building contractor Hobson & Porter.