SINGING sensation Susan Boyle’s brother wants to transform a mothballed cinema into a Las Vegas-style cabaret and entertainment complex.
Gerry Boyle, 58, wants to overhaul the disused Odeon in Clerk Street by turning it into a venue with shows to rival those on offer in the casino and gambling capital of the world.
The Instant Arena, as it would be dubbed, would stage spectacular live shows in the building’s main art deco auditorium on the first floor every weekend.
Site owner Duddingston House Properties (DHP) is backing the proposals, which would also see a champagne bar, restaurant and coffee lounge fitted to the cinema, which was used as a venue for bands such as Deep Purple, The Who and the Bay City Rollers in its heyday.
Films would be shown in the two ground-floor cinemas and events such as game shows, talent competitions and celebrity concerts would be potentially broadcast live around the world from the Capital venue.
The old stage house facing Buccleuch Street to the building’s rear would be demolished for student accommodation.
Musselburgh-based dad-of-one Mr Boyle declined to comment when contacted yesterday, but the plans have already met with the approval of campaigners who support the cinema, with one saying: “It’s an absolutely wonderful outcome.”
Mr Boyle’s company, An Instant World, submitted an initial application to the city council on December 11. If successful, it could bring to an end a near ten-year planning wrangle and fulfil a long-held dream for Mr Boyle to get such a scheme up and running in the Capital.
Key to the potential success of his plan lies with Historic Scotland’s decision to upgrade the Odeon to an A-listed building in April. The move strengthened calls for the 1930s building – which is on the Buildings at Risk register – to be returned to use as a cinema.
Save the Odeon campaigner Tom Pate said: “It’s taken DHP close on ten long years to disprove their theory that the Odeon had no viable future with the auditorium retained.
“But it’s the outcome that matters and it’s a terrific one for the people of Edinburgh who fought so hard to preserve this building and for the wonderful building itself, which will be preserved for future generations.”
The building had twice been threatened with demolition, with the council rejecting an application by DHP to gut the building in July last year. The move forced the developers to abandon the idea of turning the Odeon into a hotel.
Mr Boyle – whose sister, below, has sold 30 million albums – set up a portfolio of products under the Instant World brand in 2009 with co-founder Robert Innes.
DHP is seeking confirmation that the proposal would constitute a lawful use of the venue before proceeding. Neither the firm nor the council were prepared to comment on the plans.
INSTANT RISE TO PROMINENCE
Gerry Boyle has enjoyed a high media profile since his sister’s first appearance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.
He became Susan’s spokesman soon after she found fame. He then went on to launch his Instant World concept the same year as her debut.
The brand offers a variety of services ranging from motor insurance and banking to property development. In December of that year, he outlined plans to make his own name in showbusiness by opening a huge television studio and concert arena near the airport.
TEN YEARS OF TROUBLE
March 2003: The Odeon is sold to developers Duddingston House Properties (DHP) for more than £2 million.
August 2003: The cinema officially closes.
February, 2008: DHP submits an application for the part demolition and conversion of the building into a hotel, bar/restaurant and artists’ studios.
May 2009: After the plans are knocked back, the Scottish Government says all viable alternatives have yet to be fully explored.
June 2011: Edinburgh City Council refuses the application for partial demolition.
April 2012: Historic Scotland revise the listing of the former cinema and upgrade it from category B to A.