Capital moves for Aberdeen commercial developer

An artists impression of the completed Edinburgh House
An artists impression of the completed Edinburgh House
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One of Aberdeen’s key commercial property players has been widening the geographical focus of its investment in recent years.

Knight Property Group (KPG), has spent in excess of £25 million in Edinburgh over the last two years, on properties in prime locations.

Its most recent acquisition, for £12m, is Edinburgh House on North St Andrew Street, a former home of Santander.

The 1990s office block is in the process of a complete redevelopment. It is KPG’s biggest single project outside Aberdeen, where it redeveloped the Capitol by refurbishing an A-listed art deco cinema and creating a 10,000sq ft office building.

The growing importance of its Central Belt projects has led to the appointment of a development director to manage its expanding portfolio in the area.

Alan Clark joins following two and a half years as associate director at commercial and project services consultancy company, Hargreaves Jones.

KPG recently acquired property at 110 George Street and 2 Castle Terrace in Edinburgh.

Howard Crawshaw, director of KPG, says: “We have always held a portfolio in Edinburgh and over the last 18 months have noticed a positive shift in the letting market and occupational demand.

“Recent market conditions have seen us trading a bit of stock in Aberdeen and increasing tenancies in Edinburgh, but Aberdeen is picking up again and we still have plenty of projects going on in the city.”

The company has long had a presence in other areas of Scotland, including an industrial estate in East Kilbride, but as yet KPG hasn’t moved into the Glasgow market.

Crawshaw says that the St Andrew Square development is certainly its most high profile in the capital.

“Edinburgh House represents our single largest investment outwith the North-east and we firmly believe its location and floor plate sizes will ensure it proves popular.

“We are well into the stripping out phase and due to finish this the first week in March.

“The planning application is with the council and we are due to have the decision on 24 February. All being well, the refit will then start.”

The development of the building, which has been empty for a few years since Santander moved out, is speculative.

It will create space on the ground and lower ground floors for bar and restaurant use, while the first to sixth floors will be offices.

Each floor will be between 5,500sq ft and 6,500sq ft.

Crawshaw expects interest to come from financial, legal and property firms attracted by the building being close to what will be a transformed part of the city after the St James Centre project is completed.

He says: “It will probably be a multi-let, with individual companies taking one or two floors rather than the whole building. We aren’t planning to split floors.

“You can imagine a workforce that would be attracted to the location, next to Harvey Nichols, with a short cut through to the St James Centre. It is a big transformation of the whole area and our timings put us about 18 months ahead of the completion of the rest.”

The refurbishment work is predicted to take nine to 12 months, but with minimal disruption to the exterior of the building.