SAUCHIEHALL Street will be ‘lifted’ by a major multi-million pound development bringing creative industries, independent coffee shops and potentially a Finnieston restaurant ‘name’ to the city centre.

Glasgow’s famous street has already been transformed by the first phase of the multi-million pound Avenue project, creating cycling lanes, wider pavements and seating on the lower half of the area. The next phase on the stretch from Rose Street to West Nile Street will get under way in the summer of next year.

After a difficult two years, with two major fires at Glasgow School of Art and Victoria’s nightclub, developers, traders and council leaders say the signs are there that Sauchiehall Street is slowly bouncing back.

Read more: Popular city pub announces first opening date after fire closure

Last year, the Evening Times counted 75 empty businesses up for let or inaccessible due to the fires. The figure now stands at around 36 and will drop further in the next few weeks as work gets underway to transform a historic building in the middle of Sauchiehall Street.

Evening Times:

In the past few days London based firm Bywater properties has been granted planning permission for a major development at the historic Breckinridge house, home of the McClellan Galleries and at least nine retail units.

The main part of the building will be transformed into modern, office suites for creative industries such as architects and graphic designers. The developers want to complement this by boosting the ‘after work’ offering for employees and are hoping to emulate Finnieston's thriving dining scene, potentially temping one of the businesses to expand into the city centre.

Evening Times:

The lower part of Sauchiehall Street is expected to have less of a focus on retail looking towards the the future.

A council source said: “Given the rise of online shopping and the impact on ‘physical’ retailing the city centre will have to adapt to succeed.

"It seems reasonable to assume there may be (slightly) less retail although retailers will still want a presence in the UK’s biggest shopping destination outside the West End of London.

Read more: Noodle Bar on Sauciehall Street closes its doors

“We would be looking for a healthy mix to encourage both day and night time activity - so everything from retailing, offices and hotels to pubs, restaurants and clubs would provide the attractions to maintain a vibrant city centre.”

Evening Times:

In the next two weeks, multi-million pound works will get underway at Breckinridge House, which houses the McLellan Galleries and retailers including Route One, British Heart Foundation and Amplifon.

Theo Mitchell, owner of London-based Bywater Properties, which is leading the McClellan Works project said Sauchiehall Street was an obvious choice for the firm.

He said: “It’s got character. It’s got a bit of grit. It’s had its ups and downs but the one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s always busy. There is a lot of footfall.

Read more: Next step in Avenues project unveiled to Glasgow public 

“We got the Glasgow School of Art and Glasgow Film Theatre on our doorstep.

“It’s a fantastic building and you’ve got a whole block there which is such an unusual situation.

“We want to create funky workspaces and the idea is very much that a good proportion of the building will be sub-divided into smaller office units.The change in office fit-out styles is being led by the creative industries but now law firms and accountants are now wanting to work in spaces like that.

Evening Times:

“With the relationship we have with the Glasgow School of Art and the McClellan galleries you might imagine it might be more of the creative firms such as graphic designers and architects.

“What workers don’t want is to work in a soul-less quarter where everything dies at 6pm. They want to work in an area that’s got a bit of life about it.

“So we would want a bit more coffee, a bit more food and drink. One of the things we are also looking at is a restaurant and I don’t see this as being a national chain.

Read more: German supermarket set to open new site in Finnieston 

“Ideally it would be an independent, local operator, perhaps from the Finnieston area to change the dynamic of what’s happening in the area.

“We would also like to open out the lobby space into a cafe area and re-establish a link with Glasgow School of Art because we’ve effectively bought their front door. Maybe we can collaborate on some exhibition space.”

Evening Times:

Elsewhere on the street, plans have been submitted for a £40m office redevelopment at the site of the former BHS store. A proposal to build 27 serviced apartments in the former Greaves Sports site is also being taken forward while the owners of the O2 ABC, which was destroyed in last year's Glasgow School of Art fire have pledged to re-created a ‘world-class’ music venue.

George Rodgers who owns Mac’s cobblers, said: “The street is looking a lot better. We just need more traders to take over the vacant units now.”

Evening Times:

Donald Macleod, owner of the Garage, says it will take some time for businesses to recover from the twin fires.

He said: “I’ve been a big supporter of the Avenue project. I run a business in that area (The Garage club) and we’ve to fight very hard to bring people in. The people have not returned in numbers yet but it’s early days.

“This is an opportunity now for business and start-ups but here has to be an impetus to drive business there. The rates are a huge burden still and that’s a question that needs addressed.”

Others have suggested lowering businesses rates could improve the street's health.

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “A vibrant city centre will always offer a mix of uses both during the day and at night, and Sauchiehall Street will now offer a much more attractive location for visitors and investors.”