A YOUTH cafe facing eviction from its base of 20 years is to relocate to a mothballed nursery in Grassmarket – paving the way for a £5m revamp of one of Edinburgh’s oldest buildings.
Edinburgh City Youth Cafe – otherwise known as 6VT – would move to the former Grassmarket Nursery clearing the ground for the Scottish Historic Building Trust (SHBT) to overhaul Riddle’s Court to create The Sir Patrick Geddes Centre – a major teaching and learning hub.
If approved by councillors next Thursday, the landmark deal will bring to a close a two-year rift between the youth cafe and SHBT over the building on Victoria Terrace.
But 6VT – the only city centre youth unit in the Capital – will have to find temporary lodgings elsewhere as its dilapidated new home will require restoration work costing around £530,000.
It has been agreed that £44,000 of council funds posited to SHBT annually to help pay for the upkeep of Riddle’s Court will be leveraged to cover the cost of borrowing restoration funds for the nursery. Once revamped, rents for the nursery could reach £20,000 a year.
Dot Horne, executive director of 6VT, said she was pleased a compromise had been reached with the council and SHBT.
“We have been working with the council trying to find alternative premises,” she said. “Our first choice would have been to remain at Victoria Terrace but quite clearly that wasn’t an option.
“The Grassmarket Nursery requires extensive renovations and it’s a compromise to what we have here.”
Staff at 6VT had previously rejected a move to former Lismore Rugby Club and Number Shop in the Pleasance because they were too far away from their original base and not central enough.
But a deal had to be found quickly after the SHBT wrote to the council threatening to pull the plug on the £6.5m Patrick Geddes project unless 6VT was told to move.
It is now thought 6VT’s new premises could be renovated and ready to enter by May next year.
Council leader Andrew Burns said he was “pleased” a compromise had been reached and the future of the Patrick Geddes project and 6VT had been secured.
6VT will be granted a 25-year lease on the former nursery building with rent being paid by the council’s Services for Communities department.
SHBT have a 99-year lease on Riddle’s Court paying a peppercorn rent.
The Evening News revealed in March how the youth café was facing eviction from its home.
At the time Conservative education spokesman Jason Rust accused the council of creating “needless uncertainty”.