By  on May 5, 2008

LONDON — The curtain will soon be raised on another Covent Garden retail act.

The first phase of St. Martin's Courtyard, a shopping destination focusing on women, is to be completed by July. The entire project, which will comprise 25 new and existing retail outlets totaling 65,000 square feet located off Long Acre in Covent Garden, is scheduled to be finished in November 2009.

"We're creating a safe classic environment, but with an edge to it," said Simon Quayle, director of Shaftesbury Plc, which is undertaking the development in a joint venture with The Mercers' Company. "All the buildings have fantastic character."

While the companies have yet to begin marketing the space, which will center around a large courtyard and offer dining options, Quayle said he plans to create a highly varied retail mix. Fashion brands he thinks would work well in the development include Paul & Joe, Frost French and Sass & Bide, as well as Cowshed and Bliss on the beauty front. Spa openings are also in the cards.

The space will include 30,000 square feet devoted to restaurants, bars and cafes. Offices and residential units are also incorporated in the plans. Retail units will have flexible lease terms to attract quirky brands.

"Covent Garden is very central, it's got a massive amount of heritage and it's an established retail destination," he said. "It's one of the best parts of the best city in the world."

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