Gyms prove perfect fit for empty offices

GYMS could be the perfect tonic for the depressed commercial property market, according to office development tycoon Iain Mercer.

The son of the late Hearts football club chairman, Wallace Mercer, has filled spaces in three of his Lothian office blocks with fitness firms.

In the latest deal, Mercer has brought his Soutra Point office block in Dalkeith back up to full occupancy again by using Pulse Pilates & Fitness Studio to replace departing tenant Welcome Finance.

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The leasing follows on from a pair of contracts that saw Curves opening “mini-gyms” at his Harbour Point offices in Musselburgh and his WH1 development in Edinburgh’s Barnton district.

Mercer applied to Midlothian Council for a change of use at Soutra Point to allow him to bring in Pulse.

He said: “This fitness studio is the first of its kind in Midlothian so Pulse is filling a gap in the market. I would rather have the space occupied and producing some income than see it lie empty and producing no income.

“Also, Pulse will be paying business rates to the local authority so it’s a win-win situation for everyone really.”

Mercer denied that letting redundant office space to fitness operators was a sign of desperation, but added: “Landlords need to be realistic about the level of demand for office space and we came to a very acceptable lease agreement with Pulse.”

Wallace Mercer founded his Almondale Group in 1993, with Iain joining the business in 2001. Iain took control of the group in 2006 when his father died.

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