Luxury cinema and Next superstore among first for Â£1bn St James Quarter
IT's a cinema experience like no other.
From restaurant-style service straight to your seat to “indulgent” sofa seating complete with individual foot rests, tables and wine coolers, rest assured – this isn’t your average night at the movies.
And now boutique chain Everyman Cinemas has announced it will be opening its first ever Scottish offering as part of the £1 billion Edinburgh St James development.
The 17,300 sq ft, five-screen multiplex will boast “food and beverage service delivered to customers’ seats, a stylish bar and a private screening lounge”, according to the latest PR material – and will open from 2020.
Meanwhile, high street fashion brand Next has signed up to open a 50,000 sq ft flagship store within the new shopping mall, making it the first big-name retailer outside of John Lewis to commit to the project.
The new outlet will be one of the biggest in Scotland – at almost twice the size of Glasgow’s Braehead offering.
John Lewis will remain on site throughout the construction of the new St James development, with an internal revamp set to open up extra space.
The latest announcements mark a significant milestone for the wider scheme, which is one of the largest regeneration projects currently underway in the UK.
Once completed, bosses hope it will transform an area of the city that many claim has been neglected, as well as raising Edinburgh further up Britain’s retail rankings, from 13th to eighth.
Crispin Lilly, CEO for Everyman Cinemas, said the company was “truly excited” to be launching its first base in Scotland.
He added: “We love becoming a part of the community and look forward to offering a great night out for our guests to indulge in cinema, from all films big and small to live events and festivals.”
The ultra-luxury cinema chain combines the latest blockbusters with lesser-known movies and screenings of high-profile sports events, dance and theatre. It also runs popular “baby club” film showings for parents and infants.
And a look at some of its offerings elsewhere in the UK provides a glimpse of what could be in store for Edinburgh.
The original Everyman, in Hampstead, north London, opened as a cinema in December 1933 – but only took on its current form after being snapped up by entrepreneur Daniel Broch in 2000.
He transformed it into a luxury offering “with a passion for quality”, aimed at reaching “the highest standards possible in comfort and entertainment”.
Since then it has won recognition for its innovative approach to movie-going, with its two screens replete with armchairs, sofas and staff serving food and drinks to your seat.
Developers previously told the Evening News their vision for Edinburgh would be a far cry from the standard “popcorn and coke” multiplex.
Meanwhile, the wider St James revamp will feature 85 new shops over four floors – boasting a total of 850,000 sq ft of retail space.
It will also deliver 20 restaurants, three new public squares, 150 private apartments and 1600 car parking spaces, overhauling a huge chunk of the Capital’s east end forever.
At its centre a controversial “ribbon” hotel will spiral over the surrounding rooftops, offering 214 rooms and stunning views over the city.
The final deals to unlock funding for the massive development were signed off last month following a period of delays, which bosses blamed on political and financial upheaval.
Martin Perry, director of development for TH Real Estate, which is pushing the plans forward, said: “We are delighted that Everyman Cinemas and Next will be key occupiers of Edinburgh St James when it opens, enhancing the overall experience for visitors to the scheme.
“The Scottish debut of Everyman Cinemas, alongside the deal for a Scottish flagship store with such a respected retailer as Next, is a testament to the appeal of the development. We hope to announce more brands that want to expand their portfolio at the scheme soon.”
Councillor Gavin Barrie, the city’s economy leader, argued the new cinema would “add to Edinburgh’s already strong and varied cultural offering”.
He said: “I am delighted that following work starting recently on this much anticipated £1bn development, TH Real Estate is now in a position to start announcing future tenants.
“The cinema will be the first of its kind in Scotland and as such will be a great draw and will add to Edinburgh’s already strong and varied cultural offering. The council and the Scottish Government have both been instrumental in helping the developer, TH Real Estate, to reach this important milestone.
“This project will undoubtedly transform the east end of Princes Street, creating up to 3000 permanent jobs in the retail and service sector, and is one of the largest inward investments to Scotland this year.”
Demolition of the old, brutalist St James Centre has already kicked off, and will take up to 18 months to complete.
Bosses previously said the development would begin to take shape after two years, with the complex opening in 2020.