Failed robotic car park to become offices

A car is parked then moved into position by a robotic system at The Morrison Street Sky Park. Picture: Graeme Robertson

A car is parked then moved into position by a robotic system at The Morrison Street Sky Park. Picture: Graeme Robertson

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A space-age car park sited in central Edinburgh and billed as the future of multi-storeys is now set for a new lease of life... as an office ­complex.

The £5 million Autosafe “Sky Park”, hailed as the Britain’s most technologically advanced multi-storey when 
it opened in 2001, has been gathering dust since its operator went into receivership in 2003.

The 600-space facility – on Morrison Street – used robots to park and retrieve vehicles which allowed cars to be “stacked” in a way that took up half the space of its ­competitors.

It is understood the cost of running the robotics forced administrators to all but close the development.

Now developers Hermes Real Estate has unveiled plans to transform the mothballed Sky Park into 120,000 sq ft of grade-A offices.

The blueprints would revamp the futuristic car-
parking unit and spark an overhaul of nearby Chuckie Pend to create a new elevated walkway linking the development with Festival Square, as well as provide a significantly smaller underground car park with around 200 spaces.

City planners have previously stressed that the site had a “long history of technical and financial issues” while insisting any redevelopment faced challenges because of the surrounding buildings. 
An exhibition of proposals for the site is set to be showcased today.

Craig Wallace, an agent with Jones Lang LaSalle, which represents the developers, said the Morrison Street community would have an opportunity to see the plans and meet the team behind the revamp.

He said: “The event is an important opportunity for the local community, and employees from surrounding businesses, to come and meet the team and to get an understanding of the emerging proposals at this early stage in the development process.”

A council spokesman said the expected planning bid for the Sky Park demonstrated that Edinburgh remains an attractive city in which to invest.

He said: “This speculative development is a welcome sign of investor confidence in the Edinburgh market and would mean yet another long-term brownfield site is being brought back into use.”

“It would also complement other recent office developments in the Exchange – 
such as Atria [at the Edinburgh International Conference ­Centre (EICC)] and 
145 Morrison Street – adding to the high-quality office accommodation on offer in the area.”

It comes as fresh research showed office space in Edinburgh was the most costly in the UK – outside of London.

A desk space in EH1, EH2 and EH3 postcodes will cost now £321 per month, compared to £195 in 2013

Proposals will go on display today at a public exhibition in the EICC on Morrison Street between noon and 7pm in the Atrium Foyer.