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 Summerland For Sale - TT museum ?

Summerland is up for sale it has been revealed. The complex could be replaced by a hotel, casino or houses and may include a TT museum. The Department of Tourism and Leisure is looking for developers to take-over the 3.5 acre site, which is due to close in 2004, and create a new facility.

The sale is being handled by London property agent Ayles Heath which has produced a colour brochure detailing what the site could be used for.

The department is asking for any proposed development to include provision for a TT museum and a vintage transport interchange, to provide a transfer station between the Manx Electric Railway and Douglas promenade horse trams.

The brochure says: 'The selected developer will be required to work alongside the Isle of Man Government to create a major leisure and commercial development.' It adds one of the 'key objectives' is to: 'Encourage development which will provide a range of complimentary uses for a significant town centre site, possibly including hotel, leisure, casino, residential and other commercial uses.'

No figure is mentioned, but would-be developers have until May 23 to submit sketch schemes. A shortlist will be produced by the DTL by June 1 with interviews on June 14 and 15 in the Island. Up to three developers will be selected to negotiate for the project.

Summerland will close in 2004 after the National Entertainment and Arts Centre, incorporating the Gaiety Theatre and Villa Marina, opens. It is expected the redeveloped complex will be open in time for TT 2007, to mark the motorbike festival's centenary. The brochure says: 'The government of the Isle of Man, Tynwald, has asked the DTL to look into the feasibility of creating a facility that will commemorate the world famous TT races in time for the centenary of the TT in 2007.

'The department has undertaken and is carrying out extensive feasibility work on this project and full details will be available to the short listed candidates for this project.'

It adds: 'Individual funding for the TT Experience will be available either as part of the complete redevelopment of the site or separately to it and the adopted feasibility concept is to create a centre that will be both educational and fun and will be complimentary to other leisure-related uses.' A DTL report to Tynwald, published in January, identified Summerland as the preferred site, but included the Mooragh Park, Ramsey, and the Quarterbridge, Douglas, as possible sites.

Tourism Minister David Cretney said: 'For a long time it has been clear that Summerland is a poor replacement for its predecessor. I would like to see the site cleared, the end of the name Summerland and a bit of optimism.

'There have been expressions of interest already. We have had expressions of interest in the Island as well, but it will be major scheme so, in my view, someone with a proven record will be chosen to take it on.

'At the moment we are very open-minded,' he said. 'We will see what response we get back. I wouldn't want to rule in or rule out anything.'

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