It has taken years of planning, gone through hours of heated debate, and been the subject of fierce opinions from Cicestrians, but all of that is now history, as a new era dawns for one of Chichester’s most iconic buildings.
The Butter Market’s first new tenant will be opening on Saturday, after the building’s year-long, multi-million pound refurbishment.
The hoardings which have been in place since the end of March last year were taken down on Monday, giving visitors their first glimpse of the refit of the 202-year-old building.
The design has been inspired by London’s Burlington Arcade, with Victorian-style lamps, attention to detail with a black gloss finish, and a well-lit ambience created by a number of roof lights.
The first unit to open will be cake shop Patisserie Valerie, followed by Worthing jewellers GH Pressley, which will occupy the front two units as of May 18.
Architect Harry Groucutt, who is managing director at MH architects, formerly Miller Hughes, is happy with the outcome.
“What we proposed is, I think, right for the type of building it is and the type of retailers,” he said.
“I’m hoping people are going to like it.
“I think the most important thing in moving forward is wanting to respect and retain the best parts of the building.
“I really do hope most people are going to be impressed. It certainly is a significant improvement.”
The ground floor has one more unit available, and there are three more on the first floor including an open-plan restaurant area.
The redevelopment was taken on by Orion Southern Developments Ltd, after being awarded the contract by Chichester City Council which owns the building.
City council clerk Rodney Duggua said there has been interest in the other units, which he hopes will be taken up once the first three units are opened.
“We have spoken a lot about the past, what we have to do is now look to the future,” he said.
“This is a new life for a much-loved building in the city centre.”
GH Pressley will occupy one of the units while the company’s other operation, Etcetera, which deals with bespoke designer jewellery, will be in the other front unit.
Managing director at GH Pressley, Jonathan Pressley, is excited about moving in, and is currently looking for ten people to staff the shops.
“It really is in keeping and sticks to the original design, but brings it into the 21st century,” he said.
“What people will like about what’s going on and what we are doing with the interior design is absolutely world class.”
Director at Patisserie Valerie, Victor Scazlo, said the company had been keeping an eye on openings in Chichester for a while, and this was the perfect place.
“I have been down there to look at the site a couple of times, and I think it’s a lovely spot,” he said.
“I didn’t have the benefit of seeing what it looked like before, but I think they have done a superb job.”