The planned development on the site of the former Arnotts department store is being hailed for its architectural merit due to the proposed “sympathetic” restoration and preservation of listed buildings on Union Street and Baron Taylor’s Street.
The project is set to bring original features back to life, such as shop-front detailing, spiral wrought iron staircases and exposed walls, with the original facade on Union Street restored to its former glory, according to its backers.
The historic properties at 33-41 Baron Taylor’s Street, which include one of the earliest steel-framed buildings in Scotland, will be given a major facelift as part of the development, creating new retail, cafe or restaurant space.
The project – the biggest city centre retail development since the extension of the Eastgate shopping centre – would secure up to 200 jobs during the construction phase.
Stuart Pender from developer Swilken Estates said: “After an unforeseen delay due to Covid-19, we are looking forward to starting the construction phase on this major development.
“It is set to be a massive boost for the city, creating a large number of jobs as well as providing six new retail units and 53 high quality affordable homes.
“We are delighted to be making such a significant investment in Inverness city centre which will play a key part in the regeneration of Union Street, Baron Taylor’s Street and the wider city centre area.”
Allan Maguire, head of development and regeneration at Highland Council, said: “We are very, very close to negotiating a deal with the Scottish Government to bring this project to fruition. It could be the catalyst for the whole regeneration of the Baron Taylor’s Street and Union Street area and would significantly lift that area of the city centre.”
The plan from Swilken Estates would see the creation of six new retail units – four on Union Street with two fronting onto Baron Taylor’s street – linked by an internal courtyard which would connect two of the centre’s busiest thoroughfares.
The upper floors of the four-storey development would house 53 apartments for Highland Council and the Highland Housing Alliance (HHA).
John Macbean, partner at property adviser Graham + Sibbald, said: “On completion, the redevelopment will create six new retail units between Baron Taylor’s Street and Union Street.
“The new units will all be self-contained over ground and basement floors and will be suitable for a variety of uses.
“The new units will increase the number of occupier opportunities in the city centre and particularly on Baron Taylor’s Street and bring new activity and life to the street that should help to transform it.”
He added: “In the established city centre this will be the largest retail redevelopment in many years and has the critical mass and flexibility to add something different to the established retail offer. We look forward to discussing the opportunity with new and existing occupiers and adding to the Inverness city centre experience.”
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