Whitley Bay’s iconic Spanish City is open for business once again.
Nearly 16,000 people took the chance to look around the redeveloped Grade II-listed buildings over the weekend.
And now today (Monday) it is open for business, five years after the plans were first unveiled.
On Saturday, Mayor Norma Redfearn CBE unveiled a plaque and cut a ribbon to officially declare Spanish City open.
She said: “It’s been a long, long journey but when you look at what has been achieved, its amazing. It’s even better than it was.
“It now looks majestic. The word so many people have used to describe it is ‘wow’.
“This will be a big boost for Whitley Bay. Footfall is already increasing and businesses are knocking on our doors looking for space.
“We’re just delighted to see what has been achieved, its what the people deserve.
“I wanted something good but this is even better than my expectations.
“The whole coastline is beginning to realise how wonderful it is and businesses are upgrading their establishments.”
She added: “I know how much this building means to residents and I want to thank everyone for their patience because nobody knows more than me how long we’ve waited for it.”
The council invested £4million in the restoration project and also secured grants of £3.47million from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and more than £2m from the Coastal Communities Fund.
Lucy Winskell, North East Committee Chair, HLF, said: “What a building. The word iconic about buildings is overused but we will be using the word iconic a lot – you just need to look around to see what a wonderful building that has been restored and what an opportunity for the community here in Whitley Bay and beyond.
“It’s part of regeneration, part of sustainability, it’s part of bringing old buildings back to life for the benefit of the community, and the Heritage Lottery Fund, using money from the National Lottery, is just delighted to have been able to assist.”
The first two people to step foot inside when the doors opened were Vivien Riddell and John Parrack.
Afterwards Vivien said: “I’ve not been lucky enough to be one of the ones who’ve got in before and didn’t expect to be first in the queue so it was really exciting.
“The building is amazing, stunning, and absolutely beautiful – I loved all the different areas and the wedding suite is to die for - but mainly it’s to see that the old parts of it are still there but have been refurbished and brightened up so it’s just amazing.”
John added: “The centrepiece is just amazing, really fantastic. They’ve really worked hard on it.”
Martin Kay visited with his family and friends who came over from Holland. He said: “The quality and attention to detail will certainly enhance the seafront - our friends from Holland have already booked flights to return and sample the restaurants in October.”
Spanish City, which is operated by Kymel Trading, is now open for business – more information is available at www.spanishcity.co.uk
Chris Marsh, general manager of Spanish City, said: “We’re all excited to open. People are all amazed at the transformation of the building.
“This has had a huge impact in terms of employability as we have created 120 jobs here.”
The council’s restoration project was carried out in partnership with contractors Robertson Construction and appointed designers ADP.