ENTREPRENEUR Gerry Boyle has said he will revive the mothballed Odeon for a start-up cost of just £250,000 – and claimed the historic building only needs a cosmetic makeover.
As he took the Evening News on a tour of the disused cinema, the brother of Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle said the A-listed venue on Clerk Street is structurally sound.
The 58-year-old Mr Boyle is working with Scottish architect Kerr Blyth and Edinburgh-based construction consultant Thomson Bethune to turn the building into an entertainment complex showcasing Las Vegas-inspired cabaret acts.
Mr Boyle said plans to start internal renovations as early as next month remained on schedule.
His company, An Instant World, was granted a certificate of lawfulness by Edinburgh City Council last month, paving the way for the Odeon to host concerts, talent competitions and live comedy.
An inspection revealed worn carpets, cracking paint and plaster, damaged doors and debris, but no outward signs of water damage or dry rot.
Dubbed the Instant Area, the first stage of the re-opening would involve restoring the upstairs art deco auditorium into a 600-seat theatre venue.
A downstairs coffee lounge and a first-floor tearooms and Champagne bar named after SuBo would be the two other sections launched in time for the proposed August 2 opening.
Mr Boyle said: “That amount of money can bring it back to a level where it’s functioning. I’ve had people in here who know about these things and they’ve said it’s more of a cosmetic overhaul than an architectural restructuring.”
The two ground-floor cinemas would initially remain shut before opening at a later date.
An editing suite would be installed, allowing video captured at the venue to be cut for transmission.
Mr Boyle, who stressed gambling tables would not be part of the relaunch, said he had reached agreements with a catering company and drinks business to be involved.
At least two Scottish companies would help finance the project.
Mr Boyle said: “Some people think I’m trying to do something that’s too ambitious or I’m going to weaken my sister’s bank account, but that’s nonsense.
“It would be ambitious for one person, but if that one person is able to harness other commercial interests than that’s the secret.
“It’s probably going to cost in the region of £250,000, but that’s coming from sponsorship and partners – it’s not coming from Susan.”
Scottish film stars Sir Sean Connery and Dougray Scott, who both campaigned for the Odeon’s survival, are among celebrities who have been asked to appear at the relaunch.
The 1930s building has twice been threatened with demolition since it closed a decade ago.
Save the Odeon campaigner Tom Pate said the venue remained in “pretty good nick” following repairs in recent years.
He said his gut feel was that £250,000 for refurbishments was “low”, but predicted the initial overhaul could be achieved by August within a £750,000 budget.
“On the face of it I think that sounds feasible,” he said. “It’s furnishings, it’s painting, it’s lighting – it’s quite a lot of important cosmetic stuff, but in theory it should be do-able.
“It could be made to look quite pretty, quite cheaply.”