PLANS have been unveiled to attract more shops to Port Solent by creating smaller units.
A large waterfront building which has been empty for four years will be carved up into 11 smaller shops and space for a tea room.
Work will begin on the ‘Portside Locker’ project after Christmas, as the building will be used to house Christmas markets during the festive season.
But it is hoped the first retailers will have moved in by April next year, ready to start the summer at the marina.
The management team is now looking for tenants.
Andy Philip, operations manager at the marina, said: ‘We’re really looking for people who tie into the marine feel we have here, as that’s what a lot of people come here for.
‘We want people to come and visit and then maybe take away a few gifts from their visit.
‘We’re looking to get the bottom level of shops filled first, and then the upper first floor level.
‘The Christmas markets will be held on the three weekends leading up to Christmas, and then into the new year we’ll be refurbishing the building.’
The building is next to the Harvester restaurant, and MJ Architects from Chichester have been asked to redesign it.
The firm recently designed the Butter Market in Chichester.
The new shops will vary in size, with the largest at 400sq ft and the smallest at 80sq ft, as well as space for glass cabinets that local jewellers can use to display their goods without having to staff a unit.
Since the current management team has been running the marina, occupancy has risen from 50 per cent to 95 per cent, with brands such as Pavers and Cotton Traders complementing other shops such as Snow & Rock.
But most of the marina is filled with restaurants and bars, and in a visitor survey, eight out of 10 people wanted to see more shops.
Centre manager Samantha Golden said: ‘This development will be the icing on the cake for Port Solent, it is already a lovely place to come and I know that our customers will be delighted once we finally get the Portside Locker doors open.’