A SHOPPING centre is up for grabs in a cut-price deal after plans to transform the complex stalled.
Cameron Toll, which was bought by Irish investors in 2008 for £80 million, has been put on the market for a knockdown £44.29m.
It is hoped bold new owners will come in to reignite a previous plan to open a cinema and several new restaurants.
The Capital’s first out-of-town centre, which opened 30 years ago, was to undergo a £25m expansion by owners Warren Private and was approved by council chiefs two years ago – with the promise of 500 new jobs.
But the blueprint, which included major new stores and a rooftop terrace, never got off the ground, leaving Cameron Toll struggling to keep up with Fort Kinnaird and Ocean Terminal, which have dominated the out-of-town retail market.
Graham Birse, director of the Edinburgh Institute Business School at Napier University, said he anticipated a bright future for the centre if its owners could get the right balance of entertainment and retail.
But the former managing director of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce warned that conditions for retail were still difficult, with consumers snubbing shops and increasingly ordering online.
Mr Birse said: “Cameron Toll is a long-standing and popular shopping centre and continues to attract reliable footfall.
“It may be that the retail, leisure and food and beverage mix might change over time as it has in other locations, following the American model of a cinema, bowling, food and drink as well as retail.
“It is still in a great location for passing traffic, parking is free so there clearly is a bright future for Cameron Toll.”
Callum Mortimer, retail expert for property consultants CBRE, said the site had potential to flourish with additions such as a drive-thru and a gym on top of a cinema and restaurants.
He said: “I think we will definitely see the scheme improving in the next three to five years. Whoever takes it on would need to spend money to create this but I think, if they can piece it all together, the value would shoot up again.”
It has been suggested that the reduced price sale could be due to Irish banks calling in business loans – meaning repayments must be made immediately and in full – or less rental income due to shops closing down.
Councillor Frank Ross, convener of the city council’s economy committee, said he was “surprised” by the decision to sell in light of the current economic conditions, given that recent sales of land at Edinburgh Park and deals at the Quartermile development were at pre-recession levels.
“Generally the market in Edinburgh is strengthening,” he said.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for someone to invest, especially with the Sick Kids getting constructed out there and the BioQuarter, there’s going to be a lot of activity in those parts.
“So I think it’s important we get the right new owners, someone who is willing to invest in it and change the offering.”