BREWERS Quay will reopen by Easter with a restaurant, museums and an antiques emporium.
Life is set to be breathed back into the popular Weymouth tourist attraction with plans for 50 traders selling antiques, collectibles and vintage items from a 5,000 square foot shopping street.
Negotiations are under way between owners Brewers Quay Investments LLP and tenants, who want to bring an Italian restaurant, a military museum, a cafe and offices to the harbourside site.
The former Victorian brewery has been closed since February 2011.
The reopening follows on from the success of pop-up bar Salt and shops in the building last year, which were open during the Olympic sailing events.
Paul Cartlidge, joint manager of the project with Mike Ellery, said the aim is to provide 'a unique shopping experience for tourists and locals alike'.
Alastair Ross, a partner at Brewers Quay Investments LLP, said: “It has always been our aim to do what we can to bring the Hope Square retail frontage back to life, and to maintain support for the museum whilst we consider the building's future and grasp the financial implications and commercial realities of a project of this magnitude.”
The partners are in discussion with Weymouth Museum Trust, and have pledged to offer it long-term security after its current lease expires in 2014, stating that it remains an 'integral part' of the development.
Brewers Quay was closed in 2011 to begin an ambitious renovation project worth £15million, which originally included a hotel, flats, a wet weather tourist attraction, shops and restaurants.
It was hoped the work would be completed in time for the Olympic sailing events, but the deadline was pushed back.
Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce president Anna-Maria Geare said the reopening announcement is ‘fantastic news’ for the town.
She added: “I take courage from the fact that people wish to invest in the area. The town has been pushing for a long time to see the redevelopment of Brewers Quay.
“It complements our town centre, it’s a complementary shopping experience that beings more people into the town.
“People used to come in coaches to go to Brewers Quay and would walk around the harbour and go over the town bridge and into town.
“This to me is a welcome opportunity to get vibrancy back into the town centre.”
Mrs Geare welcomed the new jobs for the town.
She said: “It’s nice to have more jobs and the creation of periphery jobs.”
Councillor John Birtwistle, who represents the Weymouth harbour area, said it has been a long wait to see Brewers Quay reopen.
He said: “I’m delighted something is happening there at last.
“I would welcome something like this that’s going to brighten up Hope Square.
“I see people still arriving to go shopping there and realising it has shut down.”
He said he hoped an Italian restaurant would attract diners to that part of town.
“We’re fairly well stocked with restaurants by the harbour but a restaurant there would probably draw in more people.”
Shoppers welcome news of attraction’s rebirth
Carly Morrissey, 32, from Portland, said: “It used to be really good over there, with all the crafty shops, and it was a real shame when it closed.
“It is a bit dead that side of town so it will be nice to be able to go and have a wander round again.”
Linzi Haddon, 28, from Weymouth, said: “There's nothing there at the moment and I don't think people from out of town know it's there.
“But I think with more shops there, more tourists will go over there, which will be good for other businesses.”
Alan Wilkinson, 54, from Sherborne, said: “That always seems to be the real part of Weymouth that side of the harbour, so it will be nice to see it thriving again.
“I think having some shops and a restaurant there will draw more people over to it.”