Newcastle’s Urban Outfitters is unwrapped ahead of 9 December opening
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Newcastle’s upcoming Urban Outfitters store has been tantalisingly hidden behind orange boards for over a month – including when I passed by last week – but the shop’s frontage has now been unwrapped ahead of its opening a week on Friday (9 December).
While we’ve known the opening date for a while, this is the first chance we’ve had to see what the front of the Grainger Street store looks like. So, following Dave Robson’s tip-off on the Skyscrapercity Forums last night, I went along with my camera this morning to take a look.
Given the building’s Listed status, and the need to work around the strange metal flashing that stretches across the frontage of that and the neighbouring stores, the shop has a relatively understated shopfront and fascia compared to UO stores elsewhere.
Both the shopfront and fascia are in a deep shade of red powder-coated aluminium, with fret-cut letters spelling out the name of the store. Interestingly, the letters are much smaller than Urban Outfitters’ original planning application had proposed – that would have seen them be about twice the current height, and the full width of the frontage. Seemingly, however, something a little more discreet – and, dare I say it, less bold and interesting – was needed in order to get through the planning process.
Given the resulting low-key signage, one assumes that the large shopwindow will do much of the talking once the store opens; for now, however, it’s greeting passers by with a ‘HELLUO NEWCASTLE!’ message, in a cheeky play on its name.
The watchful presence of several contractors made it difficult to lurk for long or get much of a view inside, though the fact that building work is still underway obviously means that there are no fixtures or stock in place yet. However, the store’s imminent opening – in just ten days’ time – must suggest that we’ll see some activity on the merchandising front later this week.
As I explained in my first blog about this development, back in January last year, the shop’s ground floor – which was formerly Jigsaw’s unit – will represent a relatively small part of the three-storey unit. Much of the retail floorspace is on the first and second floors – spanning the adjacent Calvin Klein Underwear, Fat Face, Phones 4u and Vodafone stores – in the area that used to be occupied by the Green Market at High Friars and, before that, the MVC record shop.
As I noted back then, however, the property has never been under the same ownership as the Eldon Square shopping centre, despite the ex-MVC unit being accessed from the mall and, to all intents and purposes, being perceived as part of it. Realignment of the floor levels to their historic positions means that Urban Outfitters will be accessed only from the street, with the old Eldon Square entrance – currently hidden behind boards – blocked up.
Such is the complexity of this building, shoppers who go into Urban Outfitters on 9 December can surely be forgiven if their first reaction is “where did all this upstairs space come from?”