AMBITIOUS plans to build a hotel on the Picardy Place roundabout have been revived as part of a bid to kick-start the £850 million St James Centre overhaul.
Developers have opened fresh talks over buying the site in a move hailed as “a clear signal of economic confidence” returning to the Capital.
A previous bid to create the hotel back in 2009 was scrapped, with the blame put on a downturn in the property market and delays to the tram project.
Henderson Global Investors (HGI), which owns the St James Centre, has now notified city planning chiefs of its intention to revisit the idea.
The city’s Tory economic development spokesman Councillor Jason Rust welcomed the news,saying: “Given the long history of this project, it would be very positive if something was brought to the table.
“Economic conditions are much improved since the plans stalled and this would send a clear signal of economic confidence returning to the city.”
HGI hopes to transform the shopping centre into a St James Quarter, featuring flagship shops, flats, offices, cafes and a public square.
The first step, however, is the re-siting of Thistle Hotels’ King James Hotel to the roundabout.
A Proposal of Application Notice has now been lodged while talks to sell the land are “at an early stage”.
A spokesman for HGI said: “Our most recent discussions on taking the development forward are still at a very early stage, and we will make further announcements when appropriate.
“HGI remain committed to the success of this scheme and have every confidence in bringing it forward in due course.”
In 2012, the Quarter plans were postponed indefinitely. This came three years after Thistle Hotels baulked at a move to the roundabout, revealing a clause in its lease, signed with the previous operator of the St James Centre, that guarantees its existing location.
A council spokeswoman said: “The redevelopment of the St James Quarter is long overdue. We are in discussion with various parties to look at ways in which this project can be delivered. The discussions are still at a very early stage.”
‘SIGNIFICANT GREEN SHOOT’
Stephen Brady, head of RICS Scotland Quantity and Construction Professional Group Board, said the move should be viewed as “a rather significant green shoot”.
He said:“This is the most positive movement on this development since 2009 and it would be a significant first step towards the complete redevelopment of the St James Quarter. If this overall scheme were to go ahead using private money then it would be a huge boost for the commercial sector in the Central Belt. The entire market would take confidence from it.
“All it takes is for someone to make a move and a whole load of other shelved projects begin moving.”