Comment: Edinburgh offers good value for investors

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . . soon the bells will ring. There are many reasons to be positive about Edinburgh city centre right now, and not just because Christmas is on the way.

Our story today highlights some recent property investments which, in part, have been driven by the end of the tram works. But there are also broader reasons why Edinburgh’s retail offer is likely to be transformed in the next five years.

The key is that Scotland’s capital still offers great value for overseas investors. Compared with other UK cities and even those in the rest of the EU, Edinburgh has great potential for growth in commercial property.

On the retail and restaurant side, huge investment is about to come on stream at the SoCo development in the Cowgate which will provide a new lease of life to a long-neglected area.

In the east end of Princes Street at the former Woolworths and Burger King site, Apple and Barclays are taking over, with an opening around July 2014. Apple will be a “destination retailer” which will attract thousands of shoppers to the city centre.

But the biggest potential lies in the complete redevelopment of the St James Centre by Henderson Global. A deal on this is close.

Once complete, the new centre will offer a cutting-edge shopping experience that will attract a greater number of high-end retailers, including several new names to the city.

A new St James would also have a knock-on effect for other areas. Quiet lanes such as those around the Cafe Royal at West Register Street will become more important for pedestrians and will be 

Princes Street itself will be transformed with a different mix of shops and restaurants on the ground floor.

Add in the new tram line and there are many reasons to be buoyant about the next five years for Edinburgh city centre.