Merchant City make-over

DETAILS of a massive development in the Merchant City costing more than £100million have been unveiled.

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The massive site is to be revamped with a boutique hotel,                           luxury apartments and student accommodation in a joint venture with Mace and Mercer Real Estate Partners
The massive site is to be revamped with a boutique hotel, luxury apartments and student accommodation in a joint venture with Mace and Mercer Real Estate Partners

In June, the Evening Times revealed that Selfridges had sold the site it bought for a flagship store in the city.

The company acquired the substantial plot 12 years ago but since then it has been derelict.

Earlier this year it was purchased by a joint venture which is a 50/50 project between the investment arm of London-based Mace and funds managed by Mercer Real Estate Partners.

The site takes up virtually an entire street block bounded by Hutcheson Street, Trongate, Candleriggs and Wilson Street.

Mace development director Mike Myles said the firm is calling the development Candleriggs after the area of the old city where candlemakers historically plied their trade.

It is hoping to build a 120-bedroom boutique hotel; 100 luxury apartments for sale; between 300 and 400 apartments for private rent; and accommodation for 450 students.

A new public access will be created by way of a walkway linking the bottom left hand corner of the site with the top right hand corner.

In the centre will be a new public square which will be fronted by the new hotel as well as restaurants and bistros. The development will also include a range of shops.

Mr Myles said: "We are really excited about the development. It is a fantastic scheme and we are please to be involved in it because the Merchant City is a great area.

"We want this to be a scheme everyone wants to go to."

Mr Myles said he hoped the substantial investment in what is a rundown part of the city centre will result in public realm being upgraded.

He added: "Public realm is very important because that is what helps bring people into an area.

"The Merchant City looks fantastic and I would like that to be continued into Hutcheson Street, especially as we will be creating quite a few new public spaces.

"The value of a development is not just about how many buildings you can get onto a site but also the public spaces which make it more attractive.

"As a result, we are also trying to create a new diagonal pedestrian route into the a new public square which will continue on to Merchant Square which is really successful."

Mr Myles said he hoped the new development would attract the many shoppers who presently fail to venture much beyond the pedestrian section of Argyle Street.

He added: "There will be a mix of uses with the student accommodation to the west of the site.

"To the east we have a hotel, private residential for sale, and private rented residential which will be high quality with a concierge and perhaps a gym, residents' lounges and private garden so there will be a real sense of community.

"Research shows the likely age group for the rented accommodation will be between 25 to 35 and will be professionals who move around because of their work.

"As for as the apartments for sale are concerned, we have already been approached by people wanting to buy one.

"The ground floors of the development will be mainly retail."

Mace hopes the scheme will result in developers moving in to buy up other sites in the Trongate and that existing buildings will be upgraded.

The company hopes to lodge a detailed planning application in December and for work to start in the summer of 2016.

Work could take between two to four years to complete.

Mr Myles said a consultation day is being held in City Halls on Candleriggs between 2pm and 8pm on Friday September 5 to allow people to check out the plans.

And the firm plans to meet members of the Merchant City community council next week to get its initial views.

Mr Myles said where possible, the views of local people will be fed into the design process.

The company has also been in talks with senior council planners to present its initial ideas for the Candleriggs development.

City council leader Gordon Matheson, who represents the Merchant City area, said: "Glasgow City Council has been working hard in preparation for this new development.

"I am pleased by the willingness of the developer to enter into early dialogue with the local community prior to the proposals going through the statutory planning process.

"The potential impact of the redevelopment of this prestigious site on Merchant City and the City Centre is enormous and long awaited.

"The anticipated range of uses looks likely to complement Merchant City as a key residential and commercial quarter.

"This proposal is a further significant vote of confidence in our city's future.

"Glasgow is vibrant and ambitious and is very well positioned to benefit from the economic upturn."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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