Full steam ahead on project to trans­form old Co-op

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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