The drive towards finding a long-term future for the Council-owned Spa Pavilion will take a big leap forward next week with a market-leading agent set to start marketing the site.
After only receiving one withdrawn bid to run the building, Suffolk Coastal agreed this summer to renew its efforts to attract a bidder willing to take on the Spa Pavilion and said it would listen to any proposals that will add to the tourist and cultural facilities in Felixstowe.
“We managed to attract a lot of interest but failed to attract a bid from anyone with viable plans to take on the Spa as a leisure and entertainments venue. By engaging outside expertise I am optimistic that we can attract companies with fresh and realistic ideas,” said Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Economic Development.
“The agent we are now linking up with, Jones Lang LaSalle, has worked directly in regenerating other major resorts such as Blackpool, Bournemouth and Great Yarmouth, and we hope that record of success can be repeated in Felixstowe.
“It is a challenge in these tough financial times to find a plan for the Spa that is viable and is able to attract sufficient people and cash to grow and prosper. Our agent will be contacting all those who have expressed an interest in the Spa to see if they are ready to put in a proposal and open up negotiations, as well as seeking new ones. I think we can look forward to seeing the results,” added Cllr Holdcroft
The Council has been trying to secure a long-term future for the Spa because it can no longer afford its annual cost of over £250,000, particularly as the building requires substantial investment to modernise it, and is attracting low audiences. The independent expert advice is it would cost an estimated £8 million for the Spa to be successful as a theatre over the next 10 years.
“We cannot hide from our own financial realities, but it does not mean that there is not a future for the Spa and we would love to hear from all those with fully costed and deliverable proposals that would add to the unique tourism and cultural offer available in Felixstowe.
“We had hoped to have started this latest marketing process by the end of September but it has taken just a few days more as we have had to chose between a number of major names who were ready to take on the task of marketing the Spa,” added Cllr Holdcroft.
The Council would be looking to either offer the building on a freehold sale basis or on a lease, but there is a clear view that any future use should not just be housing or offices.
It is hoped that Jones Lang LaSalle will start marketing the site next week and that anyone interested in the Spa should contact them direct, but those details will be confirmed as soon as possible.