Edinburgh Quartermile scheme set for £170m boost

The new owner of Edinburgh's Quartermile site plans to complete apartments, offices and hotel space. Picture: Contributed
The new owner of Edinburgh's Quartermile site plans to complete apartments, offices and hotel space. Picture: Contributed
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EDINBURGH’S Quartermile urban regeneration scheme is poised to benefit from a £170 million investment from its new owner in a bid to drive the development forward.

Construction at the 19-acre site largely ground to a halt during the property crash of 2008-9, but a recent upturn in activity means property investor Moorfield, which bought the project from Lloyds-backed developer Gladedale Capital at the end of September, is hopeful of finalising work in 2017.

Quartermile managing director Paul Curran told Scotland on Sunday that Moorfield has committed to spending £30m to build 130 apartments across two blocks, while a further £140m investment will complete additional office and hotel space.

Curran said: “We’re targeting to be complete by approximately 2017, but elements of that depend on the market.”

Of the 502 apartments that have been built at the development, on the site of the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, just eight are still on the market following a successful sales push in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Curran said: “We went out in October last year over two weekends with our international sales agent Savills. This was the first time a development in Edinburgh had been taken out there for this type of exhibition.”

Prices range from £190,000 up to £1.8m for a penthouse, and demand from Far Eastern buyers – including property investors and those seeking a flat for children studying at the nearby university – was described as “very strong”.

As well as residential units, the scheme will feature four office blocks, of which two have been completed and are home to legal heavyweight Maclay Murray & Spens and flight search firm Skyscanner.

An existing Marriott Residence Inn will eventually be joined by another hotel on the site, and Curran said there was a growing list of operators showing an interest in the project.

He added: “We’re now at the point where we have 20 buildings completed out of 28, and we’d be looking to have something happening there in the next 12 months.”

The renewed push would also provide a much-needed boost for construction employment, with the site 
workforce potentially hitting a peak of 500.

The Quartermile site was sold by the Lothian University Hospitals Trust in 2001 to a joint venture between Bank of Scotland, Taylor Woodrow and Kilmartin Property Group for about £35m. Gladedale – owned by Dunfermline-based housebuilder Avant Homes – bought out Taylor Woodrow’s 50 per cent stake in 2005 in a deal thought to be worth up to £200m, while Kilmartin fell into administration in 2010.

Moorfield worked with the Quartermile team for almost a year to secure the multi-million-pound deal. Curran said: “We have a fantastic backer who is looking at other opportunities across the UK, and we would love to get involved in other things with them.”