MARINA chiefs have put together a £500,000 package to breathe new life into a once-thriving tourist trap.
The Mandale Group, which runs premises on Navigation Point, is getting ready to welcome two new ventures into the area and has secured a number of new restaurants and bar operators to take over vacant units.
The developments include:
• A major refurbishment of the former Lotus Garden restaurant and dividing it into at least three separate units. One has already been let to a restauranteur who is expanding to the marina. Interest has also been shown in the others.
• The former Sunny’s Steakhouse has bene taken over by former Hartlepool United player Callum Hassan who is opening Caribbean restaurant Kilimandjaro.
• A new American Diner called Jack Rabbit Slim will open soon in the former Tabarrini’s restaurant.
• Undertaking a programme of works, including new painting and lighting, that marina bosses say will enhance the area for tenants and visitors.
News of the investment comes after some tenants hit out at Mandale saying car parking charges are driving visitors away and for letting “the jewel in Hartlepool’s crown” become shabby.
Joe Darragh, Mandale estates director, said: “Over the last three or four weeks we have had quite a lot of interest and the vibes are good.
“Over the next month or so people are going to see a massive transformation.
“The marina is 15 years old now and it needs a bit of a revamp.
“We have got a few more companies who are coming in who will do something different.
“I think it will make a massive difference.”
Among the new businesses opening is American diner Jack Rabbit Slim, modelled on the one that featured in the 1995 movie Pulp Fiction.
It is due to open in around a month’s time under new management in the former Tabarrini’s restaurant.
Owner Adam Taylor has moved from Sunderland to Hartlepool to launch the new venture.
Former Hartlepool United player Callum Hassan, is opening a Caribbean restaurant called Kilimandjaro.
The 21-year-old will open the restaurant soon in the former Sunny’s Steakhouse.
He has not been put off by criticism of Navigation Point and said: “I think the marina looks good at the moment but it is going to look even better when Mandale have spent the half a million pound they have agreed to.”
Mr Darragh said a Thai restaurant, another eatery and bar are looking at the units being created in the former Lotus Garden.
He said: “The problem with the Lotus Garden was it was just too big and the overheads were too high but by splitting it down it makes it more affordable.
Mr Darragh insisted paintwork, lighting and signage is also being improved along the Navigation Point walkway to make businesses stand out more.