PORT Solent appears to have put its recent struggles behind it and is on its way to another booming era.
The leisure hub at The Boardwalk now has 3.6m people visiting it a year – around 300,000 a month.
That’s two-and-a-half times more than three years ago, in 2009, when it appeared as a ghost town with only half the units let to businesses and only 83,000 visitors a month.
It now has an occupancy of 95 per cent, with its two latest occupiers being Cotton Traders, which has more than 130 branches nationally and has signed a 10-year lease on unit 29, and telecoms specialist Victory Communications, with 30 staff due to move in on a 5.9-year lease, earlier this month following refurbishment.
Both deals were handled by the retail arm of regional commercial property consultancy Hughes Ellard.
Rent details were not disclosed.
Samantha Golden, centre manager, was appointed in October 2008, at the height of the global credit crunch, with the long-term remit to turn the waterside location into a popular destination venue.
She said: ‘On average we’re seeing 300,000 people a month shop, eat, drink and be entertained at Port Solent, and the transformation is incredible, with a 261 per cent rise in monthly footfall compared to three years ago and despite a difficult economy.
‘The place is positively thriving, with Hughes Ellard playing a pivotal role in generating serious levels of retail interest and converting them into lettings.
‘What’s more, valuable jobs are being created.’
Tim Clark, Hughes Ellard’s retail director, added: ‘The Boardwalk, which overlooks the marina, has a great Mediterranean feel, despite the best efforts of our British weather. The proximity of well-known retailers and restaurant chains, with the multiplex cinema and David Lloyd health and fitness club, is proving a hit with families and friends wanting a good time.’