THE makeover of a Scottish waterfront has taken another crucial step forward with a major homebuilder announcing it will create its new HQ in the area.
Gregor Shore has purchased three B-Listed warehouses in Granton, North Edinburgh, which will be carefully developed to provide the firm with a modern base for its 50 staff.
Luring the £23 million-a-year business to Granton is a major coup for Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd, the joint venture set up to mastermind the regeneration of the area.
Chief Executive Colin Hunter has been closely involved in the negotiations since taking the helm of the company in March. He has refined its blueprint to improve links between Granton, Leith and Edinburgh city centre by trying to create a mixed community which will be an attractive destination.
He said: “We are delighted with this deal and it is a clear indication that Granton and the waterfront area is slowly but surely becoming a more sought after location in which to live and work.
“In the past six months the management team has worked extremely hard to refine and improve the entire strategy for this area. This success proves that we have never been more clearly on track.
“Gregor Shore is a developer of extremely high calibre which has built its success on spotting the potential of sites at the earlier possible stage. The fact it has chosen Granton for its own HQ speaks volumes.”
As part of the deal Gregor Shore has paid an undisclosed sum for the warehouses, while nearby industrial units it already owned will now become part of the WEL portfolio, to facilitate further development.
Manus Gregor, managing director of the firm, which has created luxury housing developments all over the UK, said: “We are extremely pleased and very excited about what we can achieve at Granton.
“For many years, our main base has been in Leith, but we have gradually outgrown that. We now have a chance to create an ideal working environment for all of our staff in a single, purpose-built location
“What makes it particularly pleasing is that we can do that while staying true to our North Edinburgh roots and getting in early as part of an exciting regeneration, which is transforming Granton.”
Among Gregor Shore’s signature developments is the landmark Platinum Point building on the city’s waterfront and such quality projects have helped its growth. Earlier this year the company saw turnover hit £22.9 million, up 28 per cent on the previous year’s £17.8m.
It hopes to have its new HQ ready for occupation by mid 2008. That will involve substantial and sympathetic conversion of the three B- Listed warehouses, which Historic Scotland describes as, “finely constructed”.
They date back to 1845 and were built for the Duke of Buccleuch as part of the early developments around the new Granton Harbour – the redevelopment will include a café and shop on the ground floor.
Councillor Steve Cardownie is Chairman of Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd, which is one of three landowners involved in the £1billion regeneration of Granton Waterfront, a 15 year project to deliver 8000 homes and thousands of jobs.
He said: “Social inclusion is at the heart of what we are doing, providing job opportunities as well as affordable family housing and one-bedroom flats to encourage first time buyers.
“When you are regenerating and area it is important developments contribute in numerous ways and this development will do that in spades.
“As well as a prestige name employer which would be an asset to any area, Gregor Shore is creating shops and cafes which further enhance the amenity of Granton. This is fantastic news.”
Waterfront Edinburgh is revitalising contaminated and brownfield land for residential, commercial, retail, cultural and hotel use – which will reconnect the city with a stretch of waterfront lost to the community for decades.
The site also offers excellent economic development potential as it is close to the city centre without intruding on the Greenbelt and has already attracted Telford College and Scottish Gas, with tram and hovercraft links likely to further enhance the area.