Middlesbrough Council has acquired the Cleveland Centre as part of a drive to secure the town centre’s long-term future.
The council agreed to pay £12m for a shopping centre that changed hands for £85m less than six years ago.
The move was been hailed by Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston as ‘another important step in ensuring long-term jobs and breathing new life into the town centre’.
He called the acquisition the latest in a series of ‘innovative’ acquisitions enabling Middlesbrough Council to manage the future of the town centre.
It follows the authority’s purchase of the strategically important Captain Cook Square and House of Fraser sites.
Preston said the council’s investment strategy would help to transform the future of the town centre through a better balance of retail, leisure and residential space.
Mayor Preston said: “A stronger town centre is essential for the prosperity of everyone in Middlesbrough. It’s better for jobs, better for mental wellbeing and it helps the Council to provide the best possible services.
“So buying such a fundamental town centre site makes absolute sense as we try and futureproof the centre of Middlesbrough.
“Struggling town centres isn’t just a Middlesbrough problem. High streets everywhere are having a tough time and this savvy move makes sure we can be in the control of our own destiny.
“I’m determined that we won’t simply stand by and see what happens. When there’s a solid business case to intervene, we will.
“We’ve played a patient waiting game, driven a hard bargain and hammered down the price.
“We’ve purchased a town centre asset that sold for £85m just over five years ago for just £12m.
“We are stepping in to save it for a fraction of that price to help build a better future for our town.
“We have amazing independent businesses and great places to enjoy a meal or night out with friends.
“We’re also attracting new investment and are making progress every week to make sure central Middlesbrough has the perfect mix of retail, leisure and homes.
“The Cleveland Centre is home to many thriving shops and that will be the case for a long time to come but changing retail patterns means we can no longer rely solely on retail to attract people into our town centre.
“Now that we own the Cleveland Centre along with Captain Cook Square, we can help to consolidate and support our retail offer and look to the future with confidence and ambition.
“We’ll announce more details in the months ahead.”