Pictures show demolition well under way at St James Centre

St James Shopping Centre demolition continues. Pictures: Greg Macvean

St James Shopping Centre demolition continues. Pictures: Greg Macvean

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DEMOLITION of the St James Centre, the massive concrete pile often branded Edinburgh’s ugliest building, is now well under way.

Latest pictures show the once-proud edifice being turned to rubble as the shopping centre, along with the former Thistle Hotel, the New St Andrew’s House office block and the multi-storey car park, come down to make way for a £1 billion redevelopment of the area.

The St James Centre is beign demolished ahead of a �1bn revamp.

The St James Centre is beign demolished ahead of a �1bn revamp.

The St James Centre opened in 1970 after a large number of Georgian tenements were bulldozed. It boasted 60 stores, cafés, restaurants and a food court.

The centre closed its doors for the last time in October, ready for the demolition.

John Lewis, which will remain the anchor store in the new St James Quarter development, is staying open throughout the construction work, with a new customer entrance specially created on Leith Street.

Demolition is expected to take around 18 months to complete. The new development will include a five-star W hotel, 85 new shops, 20 restaurants, three new public spaces, 150 private apartments, an ultra-luxury cinema and 1600 car parking spaces.

Developers say the revamp will lead to around 3000 permanent jobs and transform the east end of Princes Street, helping Edinburgh become a world-class retail destination fit for the 21st century.

The retail and leisure aspects of the development are expected to complete in 2020, followed by the rest of the project in 2021.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com