EDINBURGH’S brutalist St James Centre will close from tomorrow as developers gear up to demolish the 60s eyesore.
Bosses said the much-maligned shopping mall would shut its doors for the last time on Sunday evening, after 40 years as part of the Capital’s retail scene.
Demolition is then expected to begin within weeks, to make way for a £850 million revamp set to transform the east end of Princes Street.
Plans by TH Real Estate will see a raft of new shops, restaurants and apartments built, as well as a cinema and public squares – with a controversial “ribbon” hotel forming the centrepiece. A spokeswoman said: “After 40 years as part of the Edinburgh community, St James Shopping is closing its doors for the last time on Sunday, October 16 and we want to thank all of our loyal customers who have visited the centre over the years.
“The closure of the shopping centre will make way for Edinburgh St James, a transformational new development which will complete in 2020, bringing brand new shops and restaurants to the city, as well as a cinema, a new luxury W hotel and around 150 apartments.
“Happily, John Lewis will remain open as usual throughout the redevelopment and will also be a part of Edinburgh St James when it completes.”
It was reported yesterday that Dutch pension fund APG had bought a 75 per cent stake in the scheme, paving the way for work to get started.
Under the deal, the Henderson UK Shopping Fund – managed by TH Real Estate – will retain the remaining 25 per cent ownership and manage the development.
Demolition was originally scheduled to begin in May, but a series of planning and financial hurdles have held work up.
A Compulsory Purchase Order was needed to snap up all the land on the site, and one appeal against the move is still outstanding.
Bosses said the NCP Car Park would close at 7pm tonight, with the nearest available parking now at QPark Greenside.
The St James revamp is one of the UK’s largest and most significant regeneration projects. Since opening in the 1970s, the current block has often been dubbed the city’s most hated carbuncle – but its planned replacement has also attracted its fair share of controversy.
Swirling up and over the surrounding rooftops, the luxury “ribbon” hotel at its centre has been compared to a Mr Whippy ice cream, while others prefer a ruder likeness.