Having recently had a tour of the site, it is fair to say that it's surprising just how big it actually is – the amount of work that has gone on inside is impressive. Everything from the riverside location, to the little design details in the glass-effect roof has been thought out carefully.
The green-cladded outside walls hide a lot, and it's not until you get inside that you realise the scale of the project. And what it will mean to Newport. This project is still in its construction phase – aiming for a November 2015 opening – but there is definitely a real buzz around it. This is just what Newport needs to help boost the city.
However, the shops are not the only thing being built.
There is also a Cineworld planned opposite, and between the mall complexes and the cinema will be a food court, Usk Plaza – aptly named given the view it will have. This food court could be considered the most important part of the development. Yes, the shops are greatly needed, but Usk Plaza will offer something else.
Despite the city's current lack of high street stores, it always manages to pull a crowd in. Just look at the Newport Food Festival, or more recently Record Store Day. Both were busy and enjoyable days, showing that people in Newport always come back to the centre.
And the nightlife is fantastic, there's always a friendly atmosphere in the city, good live music venues and it's always busy (again despite the lack of big names). This is where the food court and cinema will be a key player in the city's growth. At the moment, there is not much to do between the day-time activities (like the festivals) and the night-time club or live music scene. Early evening, Newport becomes a ghost town.
With the introduction of Usk Plaza, the city will have somewhere to go and something to do, to bridge the gap between the day and nights – which is exactly what is needed. For a long time, that gap has needed bridging. Come November, it will be bridged.
Newport is definitely improving, and the next few years will be an important time for this development.