Boxpark: Shoreditch-style pop-up comes to Croydon

Boxpark Croydon will open in summer 2016 on the site of the proposed £1 billion Ruskin Square development, next to East Croydon station.
Skips and Starbucks were once signs that a neighbourhood was on the up, but today’s gentrification is often rubber-stamped by the growing number of pop-up malls appearing across the capital.

Boxpark Croydon, the latest such retail hub, will open next summer on the site of the proposed £1 billion Ruskin Square development, next to East Croydon station.

It is the second venture for Boxpark, whose Shoreditch scheme, which opened in 2011, was given a seal of approval for the East End’s regeneration. Backed by developers Stanhope and Schroders, Boxpark Croydon intends to be part of the youthful transformation of the town, with 80 recycled shipping containers set around a covered courtyard housing shops, food and drink bars, plus an event space for 2,000 people.
 
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Flats at Ruskin Square, next to Boxpark, start at £402,500.

It is hoped the new developments will inject some imagination into the dreary skyline with its sad Sixties architecture. “Things are changing rapidly,” says Tony Newman, leader of Croydon council. Newman watched Shoreditch’s revival with interest and hopes that Boxpark does the same for his borough. “People are now seizing the opportunity and investing here,” says Newman, who hopes the construction of 9,000 homes over the next few years will transform Croydon into a “modern European city on London’s edge”.

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Westfield is part of regeneration plans to take the area upmarket and 5,000 jobs will be created when the group’s shopping centre is built in 2019. But, in the interim, Newman
says Boxpark will give workers and incomers more choice, and will change the demographics.

Boxpark founder Roger Wade isn’t worried about Croydon’s dowdy image. “We’re criticised for only appealing to Shoreditch hipsters and now for moving into an area that’s
not hip enough,” he says. “People living or working in Croydon are poorly served. Let’s face it, everyone likes good food and drink.”
 
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A version of Boxpark is heading for Croydon.

Wade says Croydon is one of London’s last boroughs to be developed and has more to offer than Stratford and White City. “I want everyone to rethink their view of Croydon,” he adds.

Some 27 million passengers a year travel through East Croydon station. It is 14 minutes into London Bridge, the fastest trains from Brighton can get to East Croydon in 36 minutes, and the borough is being considered for the proposed Bakerloo line extension.

Local retailers queuing up to rent units in Boxpark include Mark Russell, owner of The Cronx Brewery, who is planning a pop-up bar. “Like the Bronx, things are changing. This will definitely bring people in,” he says.
 
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Voodoo Ray’s pizza restaurant, Shoreditch, is set to open a Croydon branch

Voodoo Ray’s sells New York-style pizzas at Shoreditch and is also in talks to rent a Croydon container. “We’re hoping for cheaper rents,” says co-owner Matt Tucker.

The nine-acre Ruskin Square development will ultimately deliver 650 new homes, plus 1.25 millionsq ft of offices and 100,000sq ft of retail space and restaurants. Two-bedroom apartments at first-phase block Vita start from £402,500 and will be ready next year. Call 020 8681 8132.

Not everyone wants shipping containers for neighbours, but it’s a formula that appeals to a young crowd who are moving into the area. Gavin Elliott, director of architecture
for BDP, the design team behind Boxpark Croydon, rejects accusations that pop-ups are scruffy and transitory. “As a designer with a long-standing enthusiasm for creating memorable structures, we’re intent on delivering something amazing,” he says.

“We will build on the experience of Boxpark Shoreditch, but take it to the next level in the heart of Croydon.”

Burger boss’s bear necessities
Tom Reaney raised £36,000 through Kickstarter crowd funding to get his gourmet burger and music outlet, Burger Bear, installed in the new Magic Roundabout pop-up at Old Street roundabout, Shoreditch.

Donated free by storage firm Mobile Mini, Reaney’s recycled shipping container now houses his quirky diner on a cheap lease, enabling him to keep costs down.
 
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Burger me: Tom Reaney. Image: Chris Coulson

He says: “I love the look of the containers, they’re robust, cheaper and more fun. How else could I have started a restaurant for £30,000?”

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