Sunderland is aiming high with its entertainment zone. Credit: via Aver

Sunderland advances Crowtree project

The city council has appointed advisor Stärka as it looks to create a 60,000 sq ft entertainment district on the former leisure centre site, adjacent to the Riverside Sunderland urban quarter.

Stärka, the leisure real estate advisory business co-founded by Sammy Jones and David Bell, has also been tasked with leasing leisure space at the Sunniside leisure scheme, aiming for a blend of national and local occupiers for the area.

The first of the new roles is as an advisor on the council’s plans to create a 60,000 sq ft entertainment district in the city centre.  Situated on the site of the former Crowtree Leisure Centre, this “will be curated as a large leisure space providing circa 60,000 sq ft, and may include an events space, foodhall, restaurants, and other F&B concepts” according to the firm.

Backed by the government’s Future High Streets Fund, the proposals have been conceived to add to the existing attractions in Sunderland’s cultural quarter.

Crowtree, which closed in stags in the early 2000s, has long been promoted as an area of possibility, and is expected to tie in with nearby developments such as the Culture House and Keel Square leisure. The site had been floated as a possible home for a 10,000-capacity arena

The aim with Sunniside, where developing more city centre and PBSA is part of the overall goal, is to create a diverse offer that will appeal to residents, workers, visitors and the city’s significant student community.

Sammy Jones, co-founder of Stärka, said: “We are delighted to be advising Sunderland City Council on the implementation of its bold vision to transform the city centre.

“The entertainment district will be a new focal point for Sunderland’s social and cultural economy, and will be the perfect place in which emerging and established F&B and leisure operators can build thriving businesses.

“The quality, scale, and opportunity the Council is creating are inspiring, and we share the team’s commitment to delivering something truly outstanding for the city.”

Since launching in January 2022, Stärka has worked on deals and re-gears totalling more than 600,000 sq ft and secured new clients, including Everyman Cinema, Gravity Active Entertainment, Blacklock, Côte, Bundobust, Oxygen FreeJumping and Bean Coffee for clients.

The number of its landlord mandates has grown to include Grosvenor, DTZ IM, Schroders, Pradera Lateral and DS Properties. Stärka covers not only the entire UK, but the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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