Club to fancy flats conversion welcomed by local bosses

Work is expected to soon begin to convert the former Mercy nightclub into housing.

The former Mercy nightclub in Norwich. Inset (R) Estateducation's Ben James Smith and (L) Jenet Fernando who works nearby - Credit: Archant

Businesses are gearing up for work to begin on the conversion of a major city nightclub into plush new homes. 

City councillors previously approved plans for the prominent Mercy nightclub to be converted into 49 flats with the new fifth and fourth floors styled as penthouse apartments.

And now workmen have been spotted going in and out of the building with businesses nearby saying they believe construction will begin next month. 

But the developer Estateducation has not confirmed a timescale when approached for comment. 

Estateeducation has taken on the former Mercy nightclub in Prince of Wales Road

Estateducation has taken on the former Mercy nightclub in Prince of Wales Road - Credit: Ben Hardy

The site currently remains boarded up with Estateducation signs on show. 

Jenet Fernando has been working at the Mallie News convenience store directly opposite the site for 20 years. 

Jenet Fernando of Mallie News in Prince of Wales Road

Jenet Fernando of Mallie News in Prince of Wales Road - Credit: Ben Hardy

She recalled customer footfall drastically declining after the closure of the Mercy nightclub nearly three years ago. 

Ms Fernando said: "We used to stay open until 3am when it was very busy on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. 

"I am happy to see housing coming in. Yesterday someone came into the shop and told me they are currently doing some work inside but intend to start from next month." 

The Feed Café social enterprise is located next door and marketing manager Chris Elliott believes the new homes will help address the recent fall in people picking up coffees and breakfast on the way to work from the train station. 

Chris Elliott, of The Feed Café in Norwich  

Chris Elliott, of The Feed Café in Norwich - Credit: Contributed

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Mr Elliott said: "Work patterns have changed now people are being told to work from home where they can. 

"For us, having a lot more people living literally next door to us can only be a good thing and we hope they will come and try our food.

"The money spent in the café helping the work we do in Norwich to help prevent poverty and homelessness." 

Gary Thompson, of T & G Barbers in Prince of Wales Road, said: "I have seen the odd workmen going in here and there. It seems they are just prepping for the work to start.

Gary Thompson, of T&G Barbers

Gary Thompson, of T&G Barbers in Norwich - Credit: Ben Hardy

"I think the flats will be a positive thing for the street and daytime business. More people living around here is positive for us." 

Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich BID, added the night time economy in the city is moving away from large super clubs to more independent businesses. 

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director at Norwich BID. Photo: Submitted

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director at Norwich BID. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Archant

The history of Mercy 

Mercy was Norwich's first 'super club' which was considered to be the hub of the city's nightlife in Prince of Wales Road. 

In 2011, the nightclub announced it was closing down and was being turned into four new venues.

At the time, falling numbers were put down to the smoking ban and late licensing laws.

Owner and developer, Ben James Smith, with the grand entrance staircase of the old Mercy nightclub w

Owner and developer, Ben James Smith, with the grand entrance staircase of the old Mercy nightclub which he is going to turn into apartments. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Liquidators were then called in February 2018 after Code Red Promotions, which ran the bars Mercy, Flaunt, Lace and Rocco's restaurant owed the city council £220,000.

Code Red Promotions had bought Project Zeus' assets from auctioneers C&K Recoveries the year before.

Before being a bustling nightclub, the venue was the ABC Cinema. 

The old cinema and dance floor in the Mercy nightclub which is soon to be turned into apartments. Pi

The old cinema and dance floor in the Mercy nightclub pictured in March 2021 before being turned into flats - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Cinema seats dating back to the 1920s were left inside the nightclub and could still be seen stored in the venue when we took a look inside the building in March last year.

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