Developer Stewart seeks next wave of projects

PROPERTY developer Chris Stewart Group is expecting to win sensitive regeneration projects across the UK as it nears completion of its 
£45 million redevelopment of Advocate’s Close behind Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Chris Stewart of the Chris Stewart Group. Picture: Contributed

The group has been redeveloping the area, which stretches from the High Street next to the City Chambers down to the Market Street roundabout behind Waverley Station for the past two and a half years. The refurbished and new buildings include a hotel, now operating as a budget Motel One, restaurants including pizzeria Zizzi, and office accommodation. Recently the developer won planning permission to transform the 16th century Bothwell House, formerly home to the Faculty of Advocates, into five-star serviced apartments.

Chris Stewart, chief executive, said: “Within the next couple of months there will be clear completion. It has been a lot of work but we are nearly there with it.

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“We are working hard to find the next wave of projects. We have probably done more listed buildings than most developers – certainly over 40.

“It is a skill set which is transferable. In cities such as Glasgow and London, it is understanding how to get the best out of a heritage building. We want to be able to cherry pick high quality regeneration opportunities in locations and cities we really like.”

The firm is redeveloping an A-listed property on Baxter’s Place next to the Playhouse Theatre into a 240-bed, four-star hotel on behalf of owners Dublin-based Trendy Celt. Stewart said the group was in “advanced discussions” with an operator for the hotel.

“The development at Advocate’s Close demonstrates what we are capable of because it is not one many others would have the appetite to do or deliver to the same extent.

“I have great sympathy for the planners and the listed buildings people because they have an important role to play. Possibly they are a bit misunderstood. Our dealings with them have been extremely positive and productive. There are always challenges to overcome but it is just about going through those, articulating them and being able to then resolve them.”