John McLellan: In Edinburgh, it’s location, location, location

The House of Fraser building is set to be turned into offices (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
The House of Fraser building is set to be turned into offices (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
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It was revealed last week that the House of Fraser building on Princes Street is to become offices, but readers of this column already knew that.

In an article about the future of Princes Street on 8 March, I wrote that: “The sale of the House of Fraser store to property developer Parabola earlier this year almost certainly means the end of shopping in the building after 124 years and conversion to offices is thought to be the most likely option.”

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Parabola chairman Peter Millican confirmed at the weekend that “the city is desperate for new offices, it would stack up financially as offices, so unless we get a better offer it will be offices”.

But as they say, location, location, location, because at the same time it was announced that the 1970s Osborne House office block opposite Donaldson’s school is likely to become a hotel because it has struggled to find tenants and is only two-thirds full. There are issues with the quality of the building, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome if the demand was there.

Similarly, last week’s column looked at the new use for the old State Street building on Ferry Road now that the American financial service company has moved to the Quartermile.

But Osborne House is less than five minutes’ walk from Haymarket station and the tram stop, so it shows how fickle the office market can be, especially with the promise of brand new spaces at the still-delayed Morrison Street site.

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