The campaign to transform Plymouth’s dilapidated former Millennium nightclub and cinema building into a music venue and business hub has received a £100,000 boost.
A community share offer launched in October has now topped £154,000 after the Community Shares Booster Programme came in with a £100,000 investment.
It means that in less than a month more than half of the minimum target has been met with 117 investors now backing the ambitious project.
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The largest by some margin is the Community Shares Booster Programme, a fund run by Power to Change and the Co-operatives UK to support viable share offers of this type.
“They offered us the maximum they can invest,” said Hannah Sloggett, director and co-founder of Nudge Community Builders, the social enterprise which bought the vast Union Street building in 2020 and set about bringing it back into use.
“They look across the country at community share offers and if you meet their criteria and it is something they want to support they come forward with investment.”
But dozens of small investors have backed the project too, with people, companies and organisations investing sums ranging from the minimum £50 to £10,000.
One Plymouth hotel proprietor, who has asked to remain anonymous, bought £1,000 of shares to be distributed between staff, friends and family.
And £1,250 was pledged by 18 investors who clicked straight through to the Crowdfunder page and donated after reading about the project on Business Live’s story when it was posted on Plymouth Live.
“We have only had one day since we started where we didn’t receive an investment,” said Mrs Sloggett. “We have had regular small investments, and these people will become Nudge members. It shows the level of small investment support we are receiving.”
With 28 days to go until the offer, on the Crowdfunder platform, closes, Nudge is delighted with the amount raised so far – but it still has to raise another £131,000 to hit the minimum £285,000 target needed.
Mrs Sloggett said Nudge is confident that the amount can be raised and said: “We are having a lot of conversations with people and receiving the Booster Programme funding will give other investors confidence. We hope it will unlock others that are thinking of investing large sums of money.”
The shares went on sale to the public on October 11in a bid to raise up to £520,000 for the regeneration of the vast former nightclub and cinema building.
Nudge would be happy with £500,000 but the appeal must hit £285,000 by December 6, 2021, to continue.
Up to £70,000 can be pledged by each individual investor and the shares promise a return of 3.6%.
The Crowdfunder page can be found here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/nudgeshares
Nudge is working with partners at London-based workspace developer Eat Work Art, which has already renovated run-down buildings in London and Plymouth, to bring the enormous pile back into use.
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Nudge bosses have said the first businesses could be operating from the building by mid-2022 as work continues on creating a music venue in the main auditorium. The overall project could cost up to £4m.
Nudge said that by raising £500,000 of community share investment it would enable the repayment of money borrowed to buy the building and also go towards having the ground floor of the gigantic pile in use by 2022.
It is planning a phased development:
Phase 1: The main ground floor space will be repaired and servicing provided to allow for independent businesses with a focus on suitable commercial uses that complement the wider ambitions for the building and create local jobs.
Phase 2: The front portion of the ground floor will be given over to public-facing uses, such as independent makers or a public art gallery and servicing the wider building with toilets, etc.
Nudge said the first floor ancillary space is ideally suited to daytime use as a café, serving the public and tenants renting work-spaces below; whilst in the evening this would become a bar that serves the main auditorium.
The existing auditorium will be repaired and sympathetically renovated, being careful to retain the layers of history reflected in the building fabric. This is capable of providing a 1,500 capacity music venue “something which Plymouth sorely lacks”.
Phase 3: The top floor is linked to the café space via the south eastern staircase and so could form part of the same use, alternatively it could offer an opportunity for a landmark venue.
Nudge said it needs the investment because it was supported in its purchase of the building by the charitable Rank Foundation, which has a long association with the building from its cinema days, and Power to Change, the organisation supporting hundreds of community businesses across the country.
Nudge said the community share offer creates “collective ownership” and is a user-friendly name for withdrawable, non-transferable share capital, which is unique to co-operative and community benefit societies.
Nudge, which said people should “only invest what you can afford”, is a Community Benefit Society created in 2017 and run by residents living in Stonehouse, with a mission to upgrade the once notorious Union Street into “a street the whole world loves”.
It said it has already made a “real visible difference to the street, running The Clipper, for which it raised £206,000 from more than 150 investors, The Plot, Union Corner and pop-up street activity.
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