Futuristic car park to become £30m office block

Cars were parked robotically at the facility which has lain empty for years. Picture: Graeme Robertson
Cars were parked robotically at the facility which has lain empty for years. Picture: Graeme Robertson
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A PROJECT to transform a mothballed futuristic car park into an office block is set to cost £30 million.

The Autosafe “Sky Park” – hailed as Britain’s most technologically advanced multi-storey when it opened to great fanfare in 2001 – has been lying empty since its operator went bust just two years later.

The £5 million Morrison Street facility had 600 spaces and used robots to park and retrieve vehicles, taking up half the space of conventional car parks.

The News revealed last year that it was set to be turned into offices, and now the city council has teamed up with developers Hermes Real Estate to press ahead with the plans. A transformation of the redundant space in the Exchange business district will see nearby Chuckie Pend being overhauled to create a new elevated walkway linking the development with Festival Square.

It will also provide a significantly smaller underground car park with around 200 spaces.

The vast complex sits adjacent to land already owned by Hermes, which hopes to reveal detailed plans later this year.

Project leaders said the development was an “excellent opportunity” which would help provide around 120,000sq ft of Grade A “world-class” office space in the city centre.

Ian Cody, asset manager at Hermes Real Estate, said: “We are pleased to be entering into this joint venture with the council and it reaffirms our commitment to Edinburgh as we aim to bring forward a new flagship scheme with our partners in the heart of the Exchange district.

“Edinburgh city centre is running out of much-needed Grade A office space.”

Councillor Frank Ross, city economy leader, said the proposal was a welcome boost to the local economy.

He said: “This proposed new office development and public car park will further enhance the reputation of Edinburgh’s Exchange district as a premier business location.”

Research released in August showed office space in Edinburgh was the most costly in the UK outside of London.

The study revealed that desk space in EH1, EH2 and EH3 postcodes cost an average of £321 per month, compared with £195 in 2013.