With Swansea city centre embarking on its largest redevelopment for a generation, the Vibrant and Viable Places scheme has been quietly transforming existing run-down buildings.
It has seen boarded-up properties on the Kingsway, Castle Street, High Street and other areas make way for new businesses. Private developers have also been supported to turn empty floors above retail premises into new homes.
The £3.3m scheme, which has been funded by the Welsh Government and administered by Swansea Council, has supported 38 projects, secured an additional £6.9m in private investment, and brought 58,000 square feet of commercial space back into use.
When all elements are complete it is expected to have created in the region of 300 jobs.
It has also resulted in 69 new city centre flats.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader said: “Our determination to transform the city centre with new business and leisure offerings around the St David’s site and a new indoor digital arena is well-known.
“But while preparations have been on-going, we have been working quietly behind the scenes with our Welsh Government partners on smaller scale regeneration projects that have nonetheless helped to improve the city centre.
“This is as a great example of our Team Swansea approach and we are keen to continue with this project across the city, subject to funding availability and future programmes.”
“It all forms part of our effort to help re-invent the city centre as a place to live, as well as a leading venue for shopping, leisure and tourism.”
In June 2014 The Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places scheme awarded funding to Swansea Council for a three-year programme to target key regeneration projects in the city centre.
The capital investment programme was split into two.
The Property Enhancement Development Fund (PEDF) offered grants to businesses to bring empty or derelict properties back into use and to enhance visible building fronts.
The Homes Above Shops (HAS) grant scheme was aimed at supporting private developers to convert vacant commercial floor space above retail premises into new homes.
Among the buildings brought back into use was the old Opium Den on Castle Street and the nearby corner of Castle Square where Turtle Bay has recently opened.
Parts of the Grand Hotel have been upgraded while a derelict building at 71 High Street has been rescued.
Three new restaurants and bars have opened on The Strand and the old Fancy a Rum site opposite the LC has been transformed into a plush new restaurant, bar and micro-distillery.
Cllr Stewart added: “We are keen that investors recognise Swansea as a place where the council will do all it can to support businesses.
“These imaginative schemes have helped to breathe new life into old buildings, reduce the number of boarded-up properties and create jobs. They have made Swansea a more vibrant and enjoyable place to visit.”