Developer invests in city centre with dream purchase of Victorian arcade

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A Victorian arcade which has become a magnet for independent traders is to undergo a facelift after a development company finally completed the deal of its dreams.
Andy Allenby (centre) with Paragon Arcade tenants Luke Foster of Two Gingers Coffee House and Lucy Johnson of The Magpie’s Den.

A Victorian arcade which has become a magnet for independent traders is to undergo a face lift after a development company finally completed the deal of its dreams.

Allenby Commercial has already given tenants the go-ahead for Sunday trading after buying Paragon Arcade in Hull city centre. Now the company is working on refurbishing the handful of empty units in an attempt to add to the eclectic mix which includes hand-made cakes, antique jewellery, vintage clothing and a cool coffee shop.

Charlie Allenby, the company’s Contracts Manager, revealed that Managing Director Andy Allenby had harboured a dream for years of buying the arcade, which was built in 1891 by Sir Alfred Gelder. They made their move when the previous owners, a local family which had held the property for around 60 years, finally decided to sell.

In recent years Allenby Commercial has supported Hull’s City of Culture status with high quality projects including the restoration of a Georgian property in Alfred Gelder Street as a corporate headquarters for electronic point-of-sale specialists Tevalis and the conversion of former shops next to Hull Minster to create the Hideout Hotel.

Charlie said:

Paragon Arcade has always attracted local, independent businesses which add to the city centre’s creative and cultural scene and that’s something we want to encourage.

“Andy fell in love with the place when he was a kid. In recent years he kept in touch with the agents and he became aware very quickly when the owners decided to sell. By selling to us, they are passing it on to another family business which is committed to tasteful and stylish development of the city centre.

“We have already started work on tidying up the empty units and we will be offering flexible deals to try to attract businesses which will be a good fit with the existing tenants. Paragon Arcade is a unique experience and even though it’s small you can spend quality time in there buying flowers and traditional sweets, drinking great coffee and getting your hair cut!

“We will restore the shop fronts to their original condition, and we’ll take a modern approach to marketing using social media with @paragon_arcade_hull on Instagram. We’ll also make the most of the magnificent roof to present indoor events which will add to the life and warmth of the arcade.”

Luke Foster, who opened the Two Gingers Coffee House in the arcade with colleague Mayo Binnie during the summer, said: “We opened here because we just like the place. It’s good for footfall and it’s in the city centre but it’s not on a busy street.

“It’s in a cosy arcade which looked like it needed a speciality coffee shop. Business has been really good so far and has improved since the Allenby family started opening on Sundays. It’s been hard work because there are only two of us with a Saturday guy, but we manage because it’s fun and it doesn’t feel like work.

We’ve got some great neighbours in the arcade and we hope to see some more soon. It’s a great time to open a business here.