A NEW restaurant is planned for what is becoming Swansea’s place to go for a night out.
The owner of the former Dixey opticians in Uplands wants to convert the building from retail to restaurant and bar use.
Nigel Hill said interest in the empty Uplands Crescent property had been virtually non-existent, and that business rates had increased.
Mr Hill, of Langland, said said he was prepared to spend a six-figure sum to get the building ready for use.
“I would love to see more retail – a butcher or greengrocer,” he said.
“But there has been a huge challenge over the last 10 years in terms of the high street.”
If given approval by Swansea Council, Mr Hill said he would like a restaurant – potentially a Thai or steak venue – being run by local tenants at the former opticians.
The stretch of Uplands Crescent in question used to have several shops, but is now home to bars such as Verve 37, BrewStone, Whitez, The Bookshop and latterly Jack Murphy’s.
In close proximity are Noah’s Yard, The Optimist, Bar Saint James and the long-established Uplands Tavern.
These night-time venues lure many people from Uplands and further afield, but concerns have been raised by some people about the increase in licensed premises.
Mr Hill, said: “The area does matter to me. There are instances where people have too much to drink, but in general it’s a nice vibe.”
He added that he he was very selective about his tenants in other venues he owns, like the restaurant Truffle and coffee shop One Shoe Cafe in Brynmill.
He envisaged creating somewhere “quite cool” on Uplands Crescent, and added: “It would not be basic pub food.”
Uplands has a Mexican and a Vietnamese restaurant, plus a sit-down German kebab eaterie and a couple of diners, but the main footfall is people out for a drink.
The area used to have a shoe shop, florist, post office, bank, book shop and clothes shops.
There is still a newsagent and a fashion shop, Limelight Boutique – while national chains Costa, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have also taken root.
Claire Olsen, the owner of Limelight, said she would like to see more retail businesses.
She accepted that the bars appealed to an older crowd than Swansea’s main night-time venue, Wind Street, but said she was still confronted by vomit, cans and bottles some mornings.
“It does not help the image of Uplands,” she said.
Uplands councillor Nick Davies said getting the right mix of retail and night-time venues was a tricky balance, and that he would prefer to see more sit-down restaurants as opposed to more bars.
He said: “There’s two ways of looking at it. If this is what makes the area popular and lively, and boosts our local economy, then it’s a good thing.
“Providing, of course, that we don’t have too many of the same kind of establishments.”
He added: “The problems with retail are very largely outside the council’s control.”