The £1 billion redevelopment of Edinburgh’s St James centre has finally begun after political, financial and legal upheavals caused years of delays to the scheme.
Building work started this week after developers TH Real Estate sold a 75% stake in the 1.7 million sq ft retail and leisure centre to Dutch pension asset manager APG. TH Real Estate will hold the remaining 25% stake.
The plan to demolish the existing 1970s St James Centre and replace it with modern retail and office space was originally given the go ahead in 2009.
The scheme was met with a number of delays, with developers blaming difficulties in attracting international investors in the wake of the financial crash in 2008 and “uncertainty” surrounding this year’s EU referendum vote.
Doubts over the project were also raised after a legal challenge concerning ownership of the site.
Once finished, Edinburgh St James will be made up of 850,000 sq ft of retail space, anchored by John Lewis, a multi-screen cinema, a W Hotel comprising 214 rooms and 150 private apartments.
Designed by Allan Murray Architects, the development will also create up to 3,000 permanent jobs.
Laing O’Rourke, which had been appointed on a consultancy basis to offer advice on pre-construction works during the last year, has now been appointed as the main contractor for the scheme.
It is expected that the demolition work should take around 18 months, with the retail and leisure element being completed in 2020, followed by full scheme completion the following year.
Myles White, director of retail, TH Real Estate, said: “We are delighted to be strengthening our existing relationship with APG, with whom we have built up a strong and successful relationship over the past eight years, to partner on this exceptional development. Both APG, and ourselves, on behalf of our UK Shopping Centre Fund investors, look forward to a long term partnership on this investment which we believe will set a new benchmark for the future of retail and leisure schemes, both in the UK, and beyond.”