Is former Wolverhampton Sainsbury's to become city eyesore?

One year ago today Sainsbury's moved out of its Wolverhampton city centre base in St George's to take up residence in a new £60million store off Ring Road St Mark's.

Is former Wolverhampton Sainsbury's to become city eyesore?

The move was seen a major boost for Wolverhampton's economy - not only was the new store bigger and employed more staff, it also brought back to life an area of the city that had lain derelict for more than a decade.

But the site it left behind is on the brink of becoming another one of the city's many abandoned buildings.

A small number of Wolverhampton council admin staff based on the first floor are the only current occupants of the property.

But with the authority announcing plans to end its lease on the site as part of the £22m Civic Centre revamp scheme, the building is soon to be left empty.

It is a familiar tale for a city that has become synonymous with deserted buildings. The boarded up Eye Infirmary, the Old Steam Mill, the Royal Hospital: all once proud structures that have been left to wrack and ruin through years of neglect.

The former Sainsbury's site at St George's in Wolverhampton

Sainbury's bosses say they are continuing to market the site - although no firm offers have been received since it was put on the market more than 18 months ago.

A spokesman for the firm, Angharad Lynch, said: "We are still marketing the property and are actively looking for new occupants."

The former Sainsbury's site at St George's in Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton council's cabinet member for city assets Councillor Peter Bilson said he remains hopeful that new occupiers will be found for St George's in the near future.

"I don't anticipate the site falling into dereliction," he added. "We know that Sainsbury's are actively looking for occupants and we trust they will come to a solution in terms of new lease arrangements."

The former Sainsbury's site at St George's in Wolverhampton

On paper St George's has all the trappings of prime real estate. It's a 60,000sq ft building featuring a large modern space and an impressive Grade II-listed entrance that used to serve as St George's Church.

The entire site is spread over five acres and includes a 425-vehicle car park.

Ideal, you would think, for someone to take on as a new city centre enterprise.

Yet since the site has been on the market for either sale or leasehold for more than 18 months.

The former Sainsbury's site at St George's in Wolverhampton

Sainsbury's hold the current lease on the building until 2025 and pay around £1.2m a year in rent.

Manchester based owners Spectrum Investment Management is understood to be willing to sell for the right price.

But as time moves on the fears that St George's is set to become another part of the city's portfolio of empty buildings continue to grow.

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