Restaurant deal is a tasty prospect for Waverley Gate

A RESTAURANT and gym are set to occupy the Capital's former GPO building, in a move that will see the building opened up to the public for the first time in 15 years.

• Waverley Gate

The A-listed Waterloo Place building was closed in 1995 but has been lying largely empty for years since a 100 million revamp created the massive Waverley Gate development.

Previous owner Castlemore struggled to find any new tenants for the office space and plunged into administration.

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But new owner Highcross has secured a string of new office occupier deals, and is now turning its sights on non-office tenants.

A number of national restaurant chains are said to be in talks about moving into the ground floor.

Discussions are also being held with gym operators about leasing the two floors below.

Stewart Taylor, a director at property firm CB Richard Ellis, which is acting for Highcross, said: "We have had interest from a number of parties.

"There is space for a 5000sq ft restaurant, which is reasonably large.

"It is a very visible unit in a prominent position so it is likely to be one of the big names."

The site is opposite the proposed new St James Quarter development.

Mr Taylor said: "What will happen as the St James Centre is developed is the area will be strengthened and it will take it more upmarket."

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Castlemore collapsed in February 2009 after failing to attract tenants, despite its 100m investment in transforming the building's interior.

The building was completely empty for three years before Microsoft leased a small amount of space in 2008.

Highcross swooped to buy the building for around 30m in May. A clutch of office occupiers have now moved in, including arts quango Creative Scotland, NHS Lothian and Swedish fashion giant H&M.

Ron Hewitt, chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, welcomed news of possible further deals. He said: "It is fantastic because it is a spectacular building with a real commanding presence in Edinburgh, as well as being one of the great low-carbon buildings in the city.

"I'm sure a restaurant will do tremendously well, especially with the work to rejuvenate the St James Quarter, which will bring huge footfall and traffic."