£15m hotel to fill eyesore gap site

How the site would look with new hotel. Picture: contributed

How the site would look with new hotel. Picture: contributed

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A GAP site used as a car park is set for a new lease of life as a £15 million hotel.

Developers want to knock down an “unsafe” parking garage to make way for 
four-star accommodation on Market Street.

An operator has already been found for the hotel – which will boast 98 bedrooms over seven floors and promise stunning views across the city – by council-owned development firm EDI.

It will sit on top of new shops, and at least 75 jobs will be created by the project. Nestled in between the City Art Centre and Belushi’s, across the road from Waverley, the site was once home to a Victorian pub, six-storey tenement and a former warehouse used to ­distribute newspapers.

The final remnants of those buildings came down in the 1960s and several attempts to redevelop the prime city centre slot have since collapsed.

In 2001, the council even launched a bid to transform the site into a new science centre – but planning officials axed the idea after ruling that it wouldn’t have been cost-effective.

More than a decade later, Old Town community council leader Bill Cowan has given his backing to the plans.

He said: “No-one will be sad to see the garage go. People have been calling for that space to be redeveloped for decades – and it’s about time the council listened.”

But Marion Williams, inset below, director of heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association, called for more housing, instead of another hotel.

She said: “We know that we’re dependant upon tourism, but the Old Town is already riddled with hotels, and I think that the last thing we need is another mid-entry hotel.

“What the Old Town ­desperately needs is reasonable accommodation to preserve its residential element.”

EDI chair and city councillor Frank Ross argued the £15m plan would be a huge boost for the Capital’s tourist industry.

He said: “Hospitality is a critical part of the annual spend within the city. Expanding the hotel offering in Edinburgh makes our city a coveted destination for a wide variety of travellers – those on business, tourism and others.

“Not only would this boutique hotel mean boosting visits to Edinburgh, it would mean the creation of 75 jobs.”

Lynn Smith, a senior development manager with EDI, said the identity of the hotel chain is secret until planning officials approve the project.

But she added: “It’s really quite exciting. This will be the company’s first hotel in Edinburgh, and it will be a boutique hotel designed specifically for the city that is unlike any other hotel in the world.”