THE vision of a vibrant floating village on the Water of Leith has suffered a setback after three of its "basins" failed to sell at auction.
Water of Leith 2000, the company that owns the 6.5 acres of riverbed that runs from The Shore to Largo Place, has already brought former Royal Navy steamer Ocean Mist to Leith in the mid-1980s and added three other barges in recent years in the first basin on The Shore.
It wanted to sell the other three unused parts of the riverbed to a company that would take its vision forward and develop floating homes, offices, bars, restaurants or holiday homes.
But, despite around 150 people attending yesterday's property auction, no bids were received.
It had been hoped that each of the basins could have generated offers of around 200,000.
Water of Leith 2000 insists that it will now focus on trying to make its 20-year vision a reality itself – unless a company comes forward.
Ron Kitchin, managing director and co-founder of Water of Leith 2000, said: "
We think it is a real opportunity and could be very successful. Very few around the area would dispute that what is there has made value for their business and helped to regenerate Leith.
"If done in the same way, more barges would be fantastic. It's just a question of people doing that.
"It is certainly possible that it will be us that does it, although the economic condition does make you think twice.
"People have talked about this becoming the new Amsterdam but that's not what I want at all. It has to be Leith and it's got to be quality, not quantity."
It is thought that potential buyers may have been restricted by the difficulty of securing lending from banks for commercial development. As well as the purchase price, any buyer would have to pay for plans being drawn up, a planning application being submitted, and fitting drainage and power.
Shaun Vigers, director of SVA Property Auctions, which hosted the auction, said: "I know that they had enquiries from north and south of the Border for this and they expected at least a couple to attend and bid, so I've got no idea why they didn't. We might yet get interest in the next few days."
Craig Watson, an associate director at property firm Jones Lang LaSalle, said: "
Even if things like this are cheaper than they were, you still need access to cash."
PROPERTY SALE RAISES 1.6m
MORE than 1.6 million worth of property has been sold at an auction in the Capital.
The 35 lots put up for sale at the auction at Edinburgh's Marriott Hotel on Glasgow Road were dominated by shops and flats which the Co-operative Group owns but now deems surplus to requirements.
Shaun Vigers, director at SVA, said: "Some of the figures were astounding and the vendors will be delighted with the results."