Edinburgh facelift project pitches to world business in Cannes


By Rory Reynolds

PLANS for one of Scotland’s biggest urban modernisation projects have been pitched to worldwide business leaders at a glitzy Cannes exhibition.

The massive £850million redevelopment of Edinburgh’s St James Centre will transform the east end of Princes Street and the top of Leith Walk.

As one of the entries in the ‘Spotlight On The Cities’ forum, Henderson Global Investors is hoping to attract big business to back the ambitious project.

Staff from Edinburgh City Council also assisted in pitching the new development to delegates at the MAPIC trade fair.

Myles White, development director at HGI, said: “We were delighted by the level of interest on the part of high quality international retail brands in establishing a presence in Edinburgh.“This augurs very well for our proposals to develop the new St. James Quarter and has encouraged us to move forward with a detailed planning application in 2011.”

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development convener, said: “There is no doubt that Edinburgh needs to work harder than ever to promote its undoubted strengths to international investors at this time of genuine challenge for the city’s economy.

“While traditional UK property investors have experienced a difficult time recently, there are many European and other international investors who recognise that Edinburgh has a strong brand and regard the city as a prime location.

“The combination of a weak pound and historically low commercial property prices presents a good opportunity for investing here.”

The St James project will see the 1970s site, which includes the Thistle hotel, the shopping centre itself, and several office blocks, completely demolished.

In its place will be built a tall, elegant stone and glass building, with a promenade running through the middle, and restaurants and shops lining the sides.

Delegates ranging from property tycoons to interior designers and architects to wine estate owners attend the trade show, which is the largest property exposition in Europe.

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