Council to pay towards Colonnade cafe refit to attract more interest?

Tea Beside the Sea is current tenant of the Colonnade cafe. SUS-150819-121924001
Tea Beside the Sea is current tenant of the Colonnade cafe. SUS-150819-121924001

The council may offer to pay towards refitting the cafe at the Colonnade to attract more interest as it is thought the amount needed is putting businesses off.

The cafe is currently rented by Tea Beside the Sea but the lease runs out at the end of October and Rother District Council (RDC) has been trying to find a long-term tenant.

Cabinet will discuss a recommendation to re-advertise the cafe with the option for RDC to make a ‘capital contribution’ towards the refit on Monday (July 4).

Officers have also suggested offering Tea Beside the Sea an extra 12 months in the meantime.

RDC believes a long-term tenant is needed to provide the investment necessary to properly furnish the cafe but it must share the authority’s vision for Bexhill’s seafront

In the last round of bids, seven parties expressed interest and three made proposals but none fitted RDC’s criteria.

“Having carefully considered the proposals, the panel has concluded that none of the parties provide the levels of assurance required to merit a recommendation to proceed with a long-term lease,” the report to cabinet said.

“The principal shortcoming identified with all of the proposals is a shortfall in the level of capital investment required to properly fit out and equip the premises to a quality commensurate with its location and prominence.

“In addition, only one of the proposals appeared to offer a vision and ambition consistent with the council’s regeneration aspirations for the seafront and the town centre as a whole.”

The cafe was re-marketed with the offer of a rent-free period to overcome the monetary issues.

But it is estimated up to £250,000 may be needed to properly fit out the cafe for any new owner which was an ‘obstacle’ for all the interested parties.

Officers believe its unusual configuration and location is not appealing to bigger companies who may be able to afford the heavy costs.

So it is recommended to keep the current tenants until October 31, 2017, while bids are sought on the premise RDC will use its reserves to make a contribution to the refit – how much that might be was not mentioned.

Tea Beside the Sea’s owner Janet van den Bussche has previously expressed interest in taking on the cafe long-term to the Observer, but most-recently complained about the un-repaired leaks she was experiencing.

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