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Greek Street Revival - It's going to be a smashing place

20 October 2015
Greek Street Revival - It's going to be a smashing place
Greek Street could be seen, in recent years, as a sign of Leeds' past nightlife, the erstwhile partying and dining hub of the City. As big developments such as Trinity emerged, the independent scene began to thrive in other areas, and several bars, including Henry's and Prohibition shut their doors. Akbar’s seemed set to relocate, meaning the area slowly became neglected and seemly outdated in the face of its new and exciting competition. However, with The Liquorist, Gusto, Carluccio’s and now The Alchemist already setting up shop here, 2015 is set to be Greek Street’s year as a number of big developers sniffed out the potential of the street, located in the heart of the City’s financial district. Plans and construction are already in full swing for a new luxury hotel and several, top name bars have now opened to breathe new life into the once popular Greek Street.

The Alchemist hits Greek Street

Greek Street Revival - Article 2

One such bar to recently open on the street is The Alchemist, with its second venue in the City, having launched at the beginning of October. When The Alchemist opened its doors in Leeds Trinity it immediately became one of the most sought after and popular destinations in Leeds with long queues on weekends being a regular sight outside the bar. Luxury and unconventional cocktails are always guaranteed to be flowing in The Alchemist which made the company’s announcement that they are to open a bar on Greek Street especially celebrated.

Speaking to Leeds Living, the team behind The Alchemist believes the Leeds bar scene is one of the most vibrant and lively in the country and imagine this new location will draw in a different kind of customer base:

“Leeds is really a significant location for us, as it has such a dynamic and competitive bar scene, which we were keen to get amongst further. We kept getting the same feedback from people in Leeds about the Trinity bar which was: We love it, but we struggle to get in as it’s too busy, so the decision to open a second site was an easy one. Our Trinity site appeals to a younger audience, whereas with Greek Street, we really want to broaden out our appeal to an older clientele, in a different corner of the City Centre”

The new bar has a noticably different look and feel from the Trinity site with ‘even more copper and a stronger alchemy mood’. At Greek Street it is more spacious than the Trinity site and speaking to The Alchemist they are thrilled by the prospect of working with a new space within the City:

"We really see The Alchemist Greek Street venue as a portal to a different drinking experience for Leeds City Centre, and we’re excited to continue to evolve our mixology offering and push more boundaries".

Their team of experienced bar tenders have been hard at work on a menu which they are confident will exceed the already high expectations, with several new cocktails as well as a myriad of old favourites. A menu of bar meals and snacks will also feature, including the infamous prawn lollipops and special fried chicken basket to keep that naughty post-drink nibbly-ness at bay.

Many involved with the rejuvenation of the Street have high hopes for the new The Alchemist location, which will hopefully draw more party revellers back on to the Street but also tap into the wealth of suits and office workers in the area:

‘The Alchemist is a great destination for drinks, and being located in the financial district, we’ll also be catering for business meetings during the day as well as into the evening and dovetailing with the restaurants in the area’.

Undoubtedly another welcomed addition the bar is set to offer a new dimension to the drinking and entertainment offering on the Street.

Construction now underway for new boutique Dakota hotel

Greek Street Revival - Article 1

Potentially the biggest change to the Street is the replacement of the ‘stacker’ car park with an up market Dakota hotel with the project being led by Leeds’ property developer giants Evans. After the destruction of the multi-storey car park earlier this summer work is now under way on the boutique hotel which will front both Greek Street and Bond Court. Working with Evans Property Group is GMI Construction who has scheduled eighteen months to complete the ten storey, ninety bedroom luxury hotel. Andy Bruce, Managing Director of GMI Construction, believes the build will bring special attention to the area and looks forward to seeing the build progress:

“Following on from our recent work on the Capitol office building for Evans, we are delighted to be working with the team again to deliver another important piece of the Bond Court transformation. The design and prominence of the hotel will make it an excellent addition to the Leeds leisure offering and we are looking forward to bringing it to life.”

The hotel is one part of Evans’ £20-million-pound investment into transforming the Bond Court and Greek Street areas of Leeds. Last year the City saw stage one of their plans completed as extensive refurbishment took place on office buildings in the area (including Minerva and Capitol) to produce a popular addition of over 50,000 sq ft of Grade A office space to the area.

Alan Syers, Portfolio Director at Evans Property Group commented on the integral and stirring nature of the regeneration work:

“Last year saw the office transformations complete at Minerva and Capitol, delivering some much-needed Grade A space to the City at a time when shortage is at an all-time high. It is incredibly exciting to be on site at the hotel which is an integral part of the whole Bond Court regeneration.”

After granting the permission for the removal of the car park, Leeds City Council is also working carefully with Evans to ensure the regeneration of the whole area is all encompassing and comprehensive, which includes delivering important public realm works.

Evans Property Group submit plans for more leisure units

At the end of September Evans Property Group submitted further planning applications to Leeds City Council to create more bar/restaurant accommodation in the Bond Court area with a new street terrace underneath the prestigious Minerva office building.The planning application is in relation to the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen unit which Evans proposes to enhance and launch to the market as a potential bar and/or restaurant opportunity.

The application follows on from the recent planning approval for former RBS unit to be changed into a restaurant space with the extra addition of an external terrace.

These new plans will also encompass the Dakota hotel construction to include a new walkway alongside the former RBS unit between Bond Court and Greek Street, following which widespread works to the neighbouring public realm will begin.

The recent approval for the RBS unit has allowed Evans to amplify the appeal of this new walkway through the introduction of outside terraces and street level seating areas surrounding the unit to complement the ongoing external works around the hotel. They hope to continue this with the enhancement of the previous GBK to ensure both Greek Street and Bond Court fit in with sophisticated face of the area they are striving for and have appointed specialist retail agency, Pudney Shuttleworth, to market both units.

Tony Plowman, Director at Kilmartin Plowman and Partners who designed the scheme, believes the revival of the area will have major, positive implications for the area:

“Evans has a clear vision for how the whole area will look and has worked closely with Leeds City Council throughout the process to ensure that the whole project seamlessly blends together. The works to both retail units will create a real sense of unity between East Parade, Bond Court and Greek Street. By opening up the outside space, we can further enhance the significant public realm works that form part of the new hotel scheme.”

Great hopes for Greek Street

The Greek Street and Bond Court areas of the City have stood somewhat neglected as attention was drawn to big developments and constructions elsewhere within the City. Yet the arrival of luxury restaurants and bars such as The Liquorist and Gusto on the street began a new era for the area and have spurred other businesses and developers to stand up and take notice of the district’s potential. Having an exclusive hotel brand such as Dakota open on the Street will directly bring business for the entertainment venues and will create an exclusive and upmarket vibe to the area which the opening of The Alchemist complements perfectly. With the major developments by Evans Property already changing the face of the area, Greek Street and the surrounding areas are quickly moving to a more chic and swanky appeal which will no doubt create another charming entertainment district within an already buzzing City.

Becky Peartree is our resident food writer and is in her final year at Leeds University where she studies English Literature.