Investors queuing up to rebuild Princes Street
TOP investors from across the world are queuing up to fund the overhaul of Edinburgh's city centre, according to the man in charge of the project.
Jonathan Guthrie, city centre partnership director at Edinburgh City Council, said new buildings would be created on Princes Street within five to six years as part of a scheme that would "exceed every expectation".
The project - dubbed the "String of Pearls" - will see the creation of a chain of interconnected developments stretching from Calton Hill to Haymarket.
Princes Street has been divided into eight sections, each representing a pearl, with a number of the planned developments already under way.
They include a public consultation into the redevelopment of the St James Shopping Centre, plans to open the St Andrew Square gardens to the public and the redevelopment of the old Scottish Provident offices.
Also included is the multi- million pound regeneration of the Grassmarket and the identification of possible sites on George Street and Chambers Street for underground car parks.
Mr Guthrie said: "A lot of investors from across the world have come to knock on our door to talk about the regeneration of Princes Street.
"So many retailers, developers and owners of the buildings are wanting to get in on this - there is a veritable queue.
"The fact so many people want to get on board just shows that the plans of what we want to do really attract people. They have been a long time in coming but the waiting has paid off."
Many retailers, such as discount fashion chain Primark, have made no secret of their hopes to find a prime spot on Princes Street, while speculative developers are hoping to cash in on the upgraded area.
Rob Winter, chairman of the Princes Street Traders' Association, said the group would welcome swift movement to revamp the famous street.
He said: "Edinburgh used to be renowned for Princes Street, but it is now slipping down the ranks as a shopping destination. We have developments happening outside Edinburgh and we need something to bring people back into the centre. There is no shortage of people - both developers and retailers who are wanting to get into Princes Street.
"What I am concerned about is that we are not making a huge amount of progress here to make this regeneration a reality. What we need is a catalyst."
He added that he wanted to put pressure on the council and the Scottish Executive to ensure land owners were consulted and a plan drawn up as soon as possible.
Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "A regeneration of Princes Street is desperately needed and the fact that there are people who have faith in it and want to invest is fantastic news. I have seen the String of Pearls concept and anything that will improve Princes Street is to be welcomed.
"Up to now, progress has been relatively slow, but hopefully things will now advance."
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