THE level of interest in the ‘for sale’ Midsummer Place shopping centre shows that Milton Keynes is at the forefront of the business world.
That is the view of the chairman of MK Business Leaders, Dr Phillip Smith.
Dr Smith was speaking to the Citizen after the Citizenrevealed on its website on Wednesday that the shopping centre has been placed on the market by owners Legal & General.
The insurance giant said it is considering its options, with a full sale and the introduction of new parters on the table. It is believed Midsummer Place would bring in around £230m if sold. Legal & General originally planned to sell a 50 per cent stake in Midsummer Place, but such has been the reaction from potential buyers that it is now considering selling the whole business.
A spokesman for L&G, which has owned Midsummer Place since 2003, said: “We recently looked at options for allowing another investor to joint venture us on this successful scheme and as a result received a number of offers from parties looking to acquire the asset outright. These potential investors are of a similar size to us and share our vision for the shopping centre.
“We are considering our options, but are a long way off from making any decisions. In the meantime, we continue to focus our efforts on actively managing the asset and the extension proposals.”
Dr Smith said: “There has clearly been a lot of interest and, in these times of recession, it is good that MK is different from everywhere else.
“We are seen as being at the forefront of making an economic difference and we like to prove that.”
Plans for a £15m expansion to Midsummer Place have been submitted to Milton Keynes Council. The proposals would see 57,000 sq ft of retail space and a restaurant area built between Gap and Hollister.
Linda Inoki, leader of campaign group Xplain, which is fighting against the expansion, said the plans smacked of a ‘cynical, selfish attempt to maximise profits’.
She said: “This explains the reason behind their hurried plans to extend the building in the most thoughtless way. If they get planning permission to build new stores it will push up the sale price.”