The Tron drags on, but Jenners offers a ray of hope - Kevin Buckle

Good news this week, on the face of it at least, with news that plans for the Jenners building have been passed and the Tron Kirk is soon to open to the public.

By Kevin Buckle
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 7:00 am

Jenners will at least retain some retail as well as many of the building’s features along with a hotel and of course the ubiquitous gym.

The Tron’s future is less clear. Despite Edinburgh Council agreeing over a year ago to hand the building over to the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust with no gain for the public purse and a promise it would be open as soon as possible it would appear little has happened since.

According to statements at the time the Tron would reopen as a market after consulting with previous occupants while the SHBT came up with a more permanent use for the building, given Edinburgh World Heritage had backed out from a similar remit.

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What followed was very little, with the occasional confirmation when I asked that SHBT did not have the keys but with no explanation why.

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The first-year anniversary came with rumours that the Tron was finally to open but none of the previous tenants I am still in touch with had heard anything. It now transpires the SHBT has given responsibility for the market to the Scottish Design Exchange and they have given preference to those who already deal with them. There are a couple of old Tron traders that this does include.

I originally assumed this was at least the Tron now permanently open again but it appears there are no definite plans beyond the end of August.

Given the biggest problem makers have is making stuff while needing to man their stall I’m not sure how the artists and makers already in the SDX shop in George Street will manage both.

Whatever happenes with the market, surely a year is long enough for the SHBT to have come up with their long-term plan but there has been no mention of that at all, with the implication being they only intend to start now.

What all of this means of course is if the Tron had been given to those wanting to run it as a business that raised the money the Tron Kirk needed rather than rely on grants a large six-figure sum would have already been realised.

The refurbishment of the Jenners building looks far more promising, however. The building’s owner, Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, clearly has the money to execute his plans. The loss of some retail space is not ideal but realistic and at least the owner is a retailer himself and understands the realities of the high street and its relationship with online sales.

While The St James Quarter and Johnnie Walker Centre have as yet failed to live up to expectation I think that while it is hard to predict anything the Jenners building will deliver on its promises.

While the Jenners restoration is predicted to take four years it is very unlikely that the Tron Kirk will be fully restored by that time.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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