Mystery buyer looks to snap up Clerk Street Odeon

The Odeon has lain empty since 2003. Picture: JANE BARLOW

The Odeon has lain empty since 2003. Picture: JANE BARLOW

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A MYSTERY buyer is in talks with developers over restoring the former Odeon cinema – an iconic venue which has lain vacant since 2003.

The Clerk Street landmark has been subject to several attempts to transform its fortunes, including a failed bid by singer Susan Boyle’s brother Gerry to turn it into a Las Vegas-style theatre.

The lease of the building has recently reverted to owners Clerk Street Auditorium Limited (CSAL), after Mr Boyle’s company An Instant World Group Limited ceased trading, according to Bruce Hare, director of CSAL.

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Mr Hare said: “We are in negotiations with one party who is a restoring purchaser.”

But patience is wearing thin among campaigners, who met with ward councillors last week to discuss the future of the building. Save our Odeon campaigner Tom Pate said the group was as “passionate about the fate of this building” as it had always been.

“The community is itching to get on with another campaign,” he said. “There is absolutely no doubt about that.”

Residents are calling for the council to launch a compulsory purchase order which allows public bodies to buy a property even if the owner does not want to sell.

Mr Pate said: “There have been serious offers on the building in the past few years and they keep being turned down.

“We believe the council should get seriously involved at this stage with a compulsory purchase order.

“If they don’t get going on it then they will face a public campaign.”

A compulsory purchase order was considered in 2007 after a £2.75 million offer for the building was rejected, Mr Pate said.

He urged the council to consider a ‘back to back’ purchase order where they would line up a potential buyer to take on the property once they have used their powers.

Mr Pate added: “We are not asking the council to close leisure centres or anything to pay for the Odeon.

“It could be another company who takes it on.”

The council has no plans to press for a compulsory purchase order at this time, said Ian Perry, chair of the city’s planning committee.

He said: “Obviously people are very keen to that something happens. I have agreed to meet with Bruce Hare to discuss future options at the site.”

Councillor Perry, who represents Southside and Newington ward, said it was the council’s responsibility to keep the building “wind and watertight”.

But the material condition, he said, was the responsibility of the owners.

The A-listed cinema – which was placed on the Building at Risk register by Historic Scotland earlier this year – first opened in the 1930s.

A landmark in the city, it also doubled as a music venue during the 1970s.