Felixstowe: Viability the crunch issue for would-be Spa Pavilion operators

Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion.

Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion. - Credit: Archant

TWO projects proposed for Felixstowe’s closed seafront theatre failed not because of imagination, but lack of commercial viability, according to agents trying to find a buyer for the venue.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) described the ideas of the Spa Pavilion Associates (SPA) and Ambitions, both local groups, as “visionary”, but council chiefs did not think they were sustainable in the long-term and would need on-going support and substantial grant aid.

Currently three new potential buyers – all understood to be national companies – have expressed an interest in taking on the Spa Pavilion.

The bids have been described as tentative, very much in the early stages of development and nowhere near ready to be assessed for viability and sustainability.

Those involved with SPA are understood to be unhappy at the lack of help from Suffolk Coastal, while Ambitions, led by ITS Training director John Edson, felt they were not given enough time to get their financial data together.

JLL associate director Alastair Jack, said: “Each of the proposals received were visionary, however, in our opinion, which was based on the information put to us, they each lacked commercial viability and were not sustainable business models.

“In addition, there was a need for continued council support which we suspect was both financial and operational.”

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Suffolk Coastal has withdrawn its £250,000 annual subsidy and apart from the possibility of some initial pump-priming or help in kind would be against any new subsidy for the venue.

The council has agreed to continue marketing the building and draw up a planning brief to identify exact uses which would be acceptable and then relaunch the drive to find a new owner or operator.

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