Nightclub or gym touted for Kursaal on Southend seafront

A NIGHTCLUB, posh restaurant or new gym have been touted for the iconic Kursaal on Southend seafront.

The global company which owns the lease for the landmark have launched a push to secure new tenants.

The Grade II listed building, in Eastern Esplanade – which first opened in 1901 – has 112,000 square feet of clear space available following the closure of Rendezvous Casino in June this year.

Investment management firm AEW UK, which owns the leasehold interest for the building, accepted the surrender of the sub-let lease from the casino for a premium of £1,281,150, which was the equivalent of three years’ rent.

Now, through an advert with joint agents Harper Dennis Hobbs and Sorrell, the leaseholders want to attract new ventures.

The advert describes the Kursaal as “the most famous and historic leisure complex in Essex”.

The advert says how the space could be used for different purposes, such as function rooms, a restaurant, gym, nightclub and residential properties. AEW UK has acknowledged the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic for businesses.

However, bosses are hoping to see a renewed interest as developments of a vaccine for the virus continue.

A spokesman for the London-based company said: “AEW UK has accepted a surrender of Rendezvous Casino’s lease.

“Rendezvous has clearly suffered, in common with most leisure operators, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, with the announcement on Monday of a forthcoming vaccine, we should see leisure centres re-opening across the country early next year with a corresponding uptake in demand across the sector, and expect the Kursaal to be a beneficiary of this upturn.”

Carole Mulroney, Lib Dem Southend councillor responsible for the environment and planning, wished the leaseholders well in their search, but hoped the building would be respected for its history.

She said: “It’s really difficult to understand what would be viable, with Covid we don’t know what’s viable and how long it’s going to go on for.

“I would be more than happy to see a fully functioning Kursaal for things that people remember it for.

“It’s very big, really iconic structure, it can be seen for a long way on the seafront.

“I would quite like to see it restored, and would need quite a bit doing to it.

“It’s a listed building, so work would need to be done.

“If there are works needed to bring it up to scratch that has to be sympathetic to the building.

“People hold it in great love in the community. It is Southend, in a way.”

Ms Mulroney, who represents Leigh on the council, added that her main concern – as someone who is a “heritage person” – was to respect the existing building and bring it back to what it was previously was or something that resembles it.

She added: “Good luck to them.

“It holds a high place in a lot of people’s hearts, we have to pay respect to that.”

Representatives of Sorrell, who are marketing the Kursaal, were contacted but did not wish to comment.

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