THE Tuxedo Princess floating nightclub is to close and be towed out of the Tyne, to be replaced by a £10m restaurant and office complex.
Owner Absolute Leisure announced its development plans yesterday which will end a 23-year connection between “the boat” and Tyneside nightlife.
Gateshead Council said the Tuxedo Princess now looked “tired” and did not fit into the vision of how the area is to develop.
Absolute Leisure said it had recognised that the quayside had changed significantly in recent years and its new development would reflect this with family-friendly restaurants.
The new building will include four restaurants at the Swing Bridge end of the site and around 25,000sqft of offices next to the Tyne Bridge, adding up to 50,000sqft.
Absolute said yesterday it was hopeful plans for the Princess Quay development could be passed this year, with a one year build programme to come after that.
The Tuxedo Princess nightclub has been a central feature of Newcastle and Gateshead’s ‘party city’ reputation, with its revolving dance floor, but its connection with cheap offers has seen it fall out of favour with licensing authorities in recent years.
The vessel is expected to depart from the Tyne after Christmas and will definitely leave the North-East – although Tony Knox, managing director of Absolute Leisure, said a new site had not yet been agreed.
Absolute says the vessel will have to be towed out of the river by tugs and will be able to pass under the Gateshead Millennium Bridge when it is open.
Mr Knox said: “Although we will always operate leisure venues we are also investing into prestige landmark projects, which show our confidence in the local economy.
“It’s quite a long time since we opened a traditional nightclub. It’s either been restaurants or ‘chameleon’ type bars which change character through the day.
“People are maturing, becoming more sophisticated in their tastes. Also, the focus of NewcastleGateshead is to make the river more of a tourist attraction.
“We are looking at quite a mixture of styles for the restaurants – but family friendly.”
The new development has been designed by architects RyderHKS and uses colours and materials intended to work with the quayside site and the Tyne Bridge.
One unusual feature will be a “living wall” at the western end of the restaurant complex, which will be covered in plants.
Graham McDarby, architectural director of architects RyderHKS, said: “This design makes a substantial yet sensitive contribution to the composition of Gateshead Quayside. The proposed materials and detailing are inspired by the industrial heritage of the area, with pre-patinated and pre-oxidised copper cladding, together with a series of timber decks to complement the wharf where the Tuxedo Princess is currently moored.”
Page 2: Tuxedo does not fit vision
Tuxedo does not fit vision
THE Tuxedo Princess has divided opinion in the North-East on its contribution to the Tyne riverscape and to nightlife in Newcastle and Gateshead.
While the club has been a meeting place for thousands and has seen the start of many relationships, many see it as an eyesore.
Gateshead Council has backed the building of the Sage Gateshead music centre, and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art further along the quayside, following the arrival of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in 2001.
And since then, expensive apartment blocks and a Hilton hotel have been added, and there are ambitious development plans to regenerate Gateshead town centre including the demolition of the Get Carter car park.
But Absolute Leisure boss Tony Knox said yesterday he believed the Tuxedo Princess had contributed to the way the previously industrial quayside area had been reborn.
“It’s been very regenerative for the quayside. It was first opened in 1984 when this area was largely derelict and deserted. Any development was bars, restaurants and clubs, but now we are seeing prestige office schemes in the area.”
Gateshead Council deputy leader Ian Mearns did not sound too sorry to see it go though: “Times change and the boat doesn’t really fit into our vision for Gateshead and the ongoing quayside developments. It has started to look tired in the context of the new developments going on so from the council’s perspective, this is a very positive development.