Full steam ahead on project to transform old Co-op
TRANSFORMING a Coventry icon is no mean feat but the person developing the former Co-op department store in the city centre is relishing the challenge.
Neil Edginton’s company EDG Property is now full steam ahead on a major project to breathe new life into the old Co-op building in Corporation Street.
The old department store is now in the process of being gutted, which will be followed by a construction programme to create 62 upmarket apartments, cafe bars and restaurants and a truly groundbreaking indoor park.
Residents will have the use of a private members club and other shared facilities on the roof of the building and in addition an adjacent building is being developed as offices.
Looking behind the scenes as the project gets into a full swing offers a fascinating insight into the Co-op’s illustrious past at the very heart of the Coventry community and a nod towards a very different future.
Although many interior fixtures and fittings remain at present - everything from escalators to bank vaults and the customer service kiosks to the restaurant - anyone visiting also gets a sense of how it is taking shape as it prepares to be transformed.
Mr Edginton says he is very conscious of just how much it means to people.
He said: “The Co-op was built in 1956 by Heart of England Co-operative Society and traded for 60 years as a department store.
“So many people on the street have spoken to me since we started work, saying my grandfather helped build it or sharing other memories of it.”
Mr Edginton feels The Co-operative as it will be called will help fill a much-need gap in the city’s residential offer - and crucially unlike a lot of development taking place it is not catering for the student market.
“We are really trying to create something unique for Coventry and really trying to push the bar with architecture,” he said.
As well as the mix of 62 one and twobedroom apartments he is particularly excited about the indoor park, complete with real trees and benches.
“It is the first indoor park in the region and the first new park in Coventry in a generation as far as I am aware,” he added.
Although the exterior shell of the building will be retained and will continue to be a familiar architectural landmark the inside of the building will be virtually unrecognisable.
As to why he ended up choosing the former Co-op store Mr Edginton, whose company developed The Cube in Birmingham, said it was in part a love of old buildings but also the challenge it offered.
“I was looking in Coventry and this came on the market,” he said. “I have a thing about old buildings. “We thought we could do something really well from a design perspective.”
Work is under way at pace on The Cooperative with the aim of the scheme being completed within 18 months by the first quarter of 2019.