Builders will be on-site by the end of the year at the last remaining Fountainbridge gap site after a £215 million investment that will deliver bars, restaurants and shops alongside more than 500 “Friends-style” flats.
The long-derelict land will be transformed into a “lifestyle” development complete with leisure facilities for residents, including roof terraces, BBQ areas and communal lounges. A range of flats to suit individuals, couples and families alike will be built on the site next to the completed Springside block and opposite the current India Quay development.
Tenants will be able to enjoy unique views of Edinburgh Castle, as well as fully managed communal gardens, including a new public square.
The 525 build-to-rent homes will be styled on a US model popularised in 90s sitcom Friends, in which the characters’ apartments are managed by a superintendent.
Developer Moda Living will retain ownership of the flats once they’re built and then act as landlord, dealing with all maintenance issues in the hope it will encourage people to stay long term.
And it could prove popular with workers from the nearby Exchange financial district.
The development will house hotel-style lobbies, an on-site team for cleaning, maintenance and events management and a 24-hour concierge service.
Moda aims to start work by the end of the year, with the first phase completed by 2019 and all phases complete three years later.
Robin Blacklock, planning and development director for Grosvenor Britain & Ireland in Scotland, which has sold the site to Moda Living and Apache Capital, said: “We are committed to great placemaking and believe new, high-quality rental homes in Fountainbridge will help unlock the district’s potential.
“We have selected an investor and operator with a similar commitment who will deliver much-needed new homes in this burgeoning neighbourhood for Edinburgh.”
The Grosvenor site had not been up for sale, but Moda Living and Apache Capital Partners made an acceptable offer to seal the purchase in an “off-market” deal which will kickstart the development.
Councillor Gavin Barrie, leader of the city’s economy committee, said: “This is a sizeable investment demonstrating international confidence in Edinburgh.
“It confirms what the council has long believed – that this is a highly desirable area prime for further regeneration.
“The site is attractively positioned right on the edge of Edinburgh’s financial district and I look forward to seeing new residents living there, bringing the area to life in future years.”
The site already comprises 250 completed homes – at Springside – including homes for sale, affordable housing for the frail and elderly, serviced apartments, two student residences providing accommodation for more than 600 students and 46 private rented homes.
However, local Green councillor Gavin Corbett has warned against rushing into development without properly considering the plans.
He said: “I hope the new developer takes time to pause on the planning permission already in place at north Fountainbridge.
“The plans have the right focus on building more homes but what is planned is dull in design and looks likely to be expensive.
“I am sure, starting with a clean slate on the finances of the site, they can improve on those plans – delivering far more affordable homes, more varied design, space for small business and community use and letting the whole site breathe with space for continued community growing and green pockets. Grosvenor has had a long history with this site over a turbulent time.
“It deserves credit for responding positively to community requests for ‘meantime’ use with the first Grove mobile community garden.
“But it also put forward a scheme in which it wriggled off the hook on transport, school and affordable housing provision, all because it paid too much for the site in the last boom and bust cycle.
“Most importantly of all, the new site owners need to show that, coming new to Edinburgh, they can really listen to what people in Fountainbridge want.
“We have a great community here, but one which sometimes fears that the Fountainbridge they have grown up with is being wiped out with no respect for its history and for community ambitions.”
The scheme will be Moda and Apache’s second in Scotland, having purchased the former Strathclyde Police headquarters in Glasgow last year.