Iconic St Andrews building up for sale


By Cara Sulieman

AN ICONIC building overlooking the famous St Andrews Old Course is up for sale after a major backer called in its debts.

The Bank of Scotland put money up for an American company, Wasserman Real Estate Capital, to turn Hamilton Hall into luxury time-share apartments.

But plans were shelved because of the recession and the bank is now understood to have “called up” the sale of the building.

It has now been handed over to Jones Lang LaSalle estate agents who are handling the sale.


David Wasserman bought the grand pile in 2004 for £20 million and borrowed a rumoured £80 million to fund the refurbishment.

But the collapse of the housing market delayed the project, before the plans were completely mothballed.

Under Scots law, a creditor of heritable property can call up a sale if the borrower breaches the conditions of lending – which is what the Bank of Scotland are thought to have done.

The only work that was done on the 114-year-old building was to gut it in preparation for the redevelopment work.

World of golf

But despite the state of disrepair, it is likely to sell quickly thanks to its prime position overlooking the first tee and the 18th hole of the famous course.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s national director Alan Creevy said: “It is hard to imagine a more iconic building which will be known by all in the world of golf as the backdrop to the many eventful Open finals which have taken place at St Andrews over the years.

“Properties such as Hamilton Hall almost never come on the open market and we are delighted to handle such a prestige instruction.

“The property has planning and listed building consent for 25 luxury apartments that were originally intended for fractional ownership.

“Significant interest”

“We remain in a market where credit is difficult to obtain, but developments such as this have potential, either as a boutique hotel which will attract visitors to St Andrews or as prestige apartments which would have a market for domestic and international purchasers.

“We have no doubt there will be very significant interest.”

The building is the most famous in St Andrews, having featured in Chariots of Fire and dominating the view of the first and 18th holes of the Old Course on golf tournaments

As well as the creation of luxury apartments – that were to be marketed towards American golfing enthusiasts – the plans involved restoring the building as closely as possible to its former glory.

Armed forces

They were due to restore a forgotten corner entrance and a rooftop cupola that was destroyed by fire in the 1970s.

It was to take the name St Andrews Grand – the name that the building had when it was a hotel from 1895 until the Second World War when it was requisitioned by the armed forces.

This marked the end of a successful run for the hotel when it took advantage of the beginning of the tourist boom in the late 1800s.

When the war ended, there were a number of plans set out for the future of the building.


The most controversial was a proposal to sell it to the Roman Catholic Church as a residence and seminary.

But the traditional Presbyterian population were outraged at the idea and this idea was soon abandoned.

Instead, it was bought by the University of St Andrews who opened it as a hall of residence in 1949

It housed students until the Wasserman Real Estate Capital bought it as the result of an unsolicited bid in 2004.


The price of the apartments that were to be built reflected the location and grandeur of the building.

Based around the timeshare concept, 10-week ‘memberships’ would have been priced between $1.3 million and $3.3 million.

On top of this initial cost, a further $14,000 a year would have been splashed out.

For their cash, the 115 members would get butlers, housekeeping, chefs, spa treatments and courtesy cars.