Former Wales rugby forward hooks an iconic Newport city centre building

Paul Young & Joanna Russell

Former Wales front row forward Paul Young is unwrapping some appetising designs for the future after buying surely one of the most unusual buildings in the city of Newport.

The former Wales and Newport Gwent Dragons hooker struck fast to snap up a unique former showroom building at Clarence Place as headquarters for his interiors business, So Exclusive.

The spherical, concave domed single storey structure was built by Taylor Wimpey to use as their sales and marketing suite for new homes being built on the banks of the River Usk.

Paul has already sub let half of his new purchase back to house builders Taylor Wimpey for them to use to market two and three bed apartments they are building and selling at its Renaissance Point development.

The rest of the 2,000 sq ft property is currently Paul’s interior & developments business but that could soon all be about to change.

Paul is the current Wales Women’s Rugby forwards coach and previously played for Llanelli, Cardiff, Newport and the Dragons.

Paul, based in Newport, said: “I have been aware of, and interested in this unique building for quite some time. I jumped at the chance to acquire it when it went on the market as I could see it had real possibilities for numerous alternative uses.”

The building, in the shadow of towering Clarence House and opposite the city’s historic converted former arts college now swish apartments and adjacent to Newport Bridge, is also very close to Rodney Parade home to Newport Gwent Dragons, Newport Rugby and Newport County AFC.

“This building, which is in an ideal location in a revitalised part of the city overlooking the River Usk, is close to Rodney Parade and has views of Newport Castle in one direction and Friars Walk the other way, offers so much potential.

“The one half of the building is currently operating very well for Taylor Wimpey as their marketing suite. I am using another portion as my office and consultation room for So Exclusive Interiors & Developments.”

Paul, who is working on this latest venture with a Newport-based business partner, said: “We have a number of ideas which we are considering for the future use of the building one of which is the creation of a gritty, edgy New York style post industrial café/bar restaurant.

“The décor and style will be created by So Exclusive Interiors and act as a very effective show room for the business showcasing what we can provide for customers in terms of commercial interior design, fit out & bespoke products. I am very excited and can’t wait to get cracking.”

Paul, who lives in Newport with his wife and young family, says he would hope to build on his contacts within the business and rugby circles.

The area surrounding the building along the river bank has benefited from widespread residential development recently creating potential customers for the proposed business.