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|Location||255 Finchley Rd, London NW3 6LU|
The O2 Centre is an indoor shopping and entertainment centre on Finchley Road, London, near Finchley Road tube station. It is located in between Hampstead, West Hampstead and Swiss Cottage. It also has a large car park.
Now owned by Land Securities, previously X Leisure, and opened in 1998. Despite the same name and originally very similar logo, it is no relation to the O2 telecommunications brand, which was launched 4 years later. The name was chosen as reference to the spacious feel of the building, as O2 is the chemical formula for dioxygen.
Since taking over the O2 Centre, Land Securities have been undergoing extensive redevelopment to improve the offering.
With anchor units of Sainsbury's on level 0, Virgin Active (previously Esporta) on Level 1 and VUE cinema on Level 2, the centre is a unique mix of retail, entertainment and leisure - reflected in the centre's 18 hour+ opening times.
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The opening of the centre in 1998 came after many years of the site remaining derelict. In the early 1990s the buildings along Finchley Road were demolished in preparation for the centre, but problems with planning permission, with concerns over traffic in particular, led to construction being delayed by many years. A great deal of consultation took place with local residents, including asking them to vote from a choice of 3 designs for the exterior of the building, relating to different kinds of periodic elements - and asking them to suggest a name.
Original plans included having a bowling alley in the location eventually occupied by Esporta, Sainsbury's being in the warehouse-style building occupied by Homebase, and the lower ground level (now Sainsburys) being home to several non-food retailers.
The original £15m budget for the build was exceeded in early 1997, causing a temporary delay in the build until additional capital investors could be found.