Work starts on revamp of Belfast Westwood shopping outlet
Work has begun on the redevelopment of the Westwood Shopping Centre in west Belfast, which will see seven new retail units being built.
Landlord Johncorp is behind the scheme which will see Asda, B&M Bargains and McDonald's remaining within the centre.
The original mall is being demolished and replaced by open class one retail units that will front directly on to the car park.
In total, seven new retail units will be created, ranging in size from 6,300 sq ft to 40,000 sq ft.
However, the names of new tenants or businesses have yet to be revealed.
Johncorp says the revamp is due to be completed by April 2017.
Kevin McKay of Benmore Group, developers on behalf of Johncorp, said: "We are extremely excited to get on with this scheme, which has been many years in the planning.
"It will see a major transformation of Westwood into an open class one retail park (while retaining Asda, B&M and McDonald's) with the removal of the existing shopping mall.
"The commitment from these existing occupiers to the scheme highlights the strength of the centre and its strategic location.
"We believe that the proposed retail format is ideal for this strategic location on a major road junction, with fantastic connectivity and a densely populated catchment."
Commercial property firms CBRE and London-based Wilkinson Williams are acting as letting agents for the scheme.
Colin Mathewson, senior director of retail at CBRE, said: "The redevelopment of Westwood to create large retail units adjacent to Asda and B&M recognises the existing market trend and occupier demand for this format.
"The availability of these units will allow retailers not yet represented in this part of Belfast to secure units and this process will continue to grow the importance of this location within the retail hierarchy of the greater Belfast catchment. We are delighted to be involved in this scheme on behalf of Johncorp, with the redeveloped centre due to open in early 2017."
Elsewhere in Belfast, Connswater shopping centre and retail park will see new additions over the next year.
They will include Starbucks' first drive-through coffee outlet.
The US-owned coffee chain is opening the new location at Connswater shopping centre - which is managed by Gerry Monaghan - with construction due to begin at the start of October.
Starbucks has confirmed that it will open a 3,300 sq ft store in the east Belfast retail park before the end of this year. And a new Lidl supermarket at Connswater is now set to go ahead.
Belfast City Council gave the green light to the discounter's plans for a new store in June.
Connswater has been struggling to find a big-name retailer to fill the void left by former big tenants, Tesco and Dunnes.
A spokesman for the supermarket said it "welcomes the positive recommendation".