Delight at nightclub boost for Norwich’s Riverside area

The future of Norwich's Riverside area is looking bright again, just days after the area was dealt a potentially damaging blow.

As reported in Wednesday's Evening News, the area's biggest nightclub, Project, below, has closed with the loss of around 60 jobs – just over a year after it reopened following a �2m revamp.

The news prompted fears that the Riverside complex could be left with one of its biggest assets stood empty, in the midst of an already difficult financial climate.

The big nightclub – formerly named Time and Lava & Ignite – looked set to join the vacant units of the Norwegian Blue and Squares bars in the complex.

However, the owners of the majority of the site, X-Leisure, have confirmed that new life is set to be breathed into the building straight away, with another nightclub operator already set to take up the site's lease.

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Robert Warner, X-Leisure's director of communications, said: 'The lease at Project Nightclub, Norwich Riverside Entertainment Centre, expires on April 1. The current operator is, therefore, vacating the property.

'We are delighted to confirm that a new operator has signed a lease and the venue will shortly be reopening.'

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The exact details of the new operator were not able to be confirmed by X-Leisure, but the news will come as a relief to other retailers in the area.

Restaurants such as Frankie and Benny's, Bella Italia and Nando's are all based at Riverside, as well as the Wetherspoon's Queen of the Iceni bar, the recently re-branded Bridge Tavern, the Odeon Cinema and Hollywood Bowl bowling alley.

Fears have been previously raised about the impact the closure of the nightclub would have on the rest of Riverside.

However, Stefan Gurney, manager of the Norwich City Centre Partnership, feels that Riverside is now returning to full strength.

He said: 'Riverside has a strong offering, I think that is reflected in the fact that they have found a new suitable tenant for the Project site. That is good for local jobs and will have a positive impact on that area.

'It is very much more of a family-friendly area now. They are shifting with what the modern consumer wants.

'Everyone is looking for much more social interaction and how everyone gets together; it's very different to the pub culture that it had before.'

The nightclub and the bowling alley re-opened again last February after being closed for more than three years because of structural problems.

When it was re-opened as Project - bringing with it 75 new jobs - the nightclub was still owned by Luminar, which then went into administration last November.

It was one of the group's clubs which survived and was not closed before the newly-formed Luminar Group took over the company in December.

The club was closed last Saturday however as Luminar Group said the nightclub was 'not financially viable', as a reduction in rent could not be agreed with X-Leisure.

With the nightclub site now set to be filled, though, that will leave just the Norwegian Blue and Squares units vacant.

Last December it was revealed that the former bars were due to be filled by a chain of super-restaurants, known as Za Za Bazaar, some of which can seat up to 1,000 people.

That deal has still not been finalised, however, as Mr Warner added: 'Our tenants remain in discussions with multi-cuisine world banqueting offer Za Za Bazaar to take on and combine both the original Norwegian Blue and Square units.

'If this proceeds, we hope to see an exciting new operator join the scheme.'

- What do you think? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect house, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email

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