Despite sitting on one of the city’s busiest crossroads, the Tron Kirk has been left empty for most of the year since the 1950s.
It is currently only used for a few weeks a year during the Edinburgh festivals and Hogmanay, after an attempt to turn the council-owned building into a summer tourist information centre for the thousands of people who pass by every day eventually fell flat in 2006.
Now the church will be reborn as an indoor arts market, housing stalls selling arts and crafts by local artists and producers, as well as a cafe.
And the 17th century Gothic building is also set to become the home of popular independent shop Avalanche Records.
The space is leased by Earthy Foods & Goods managing director Pete Jackson, with volunteers currently hard at work setting up stalls and facilities ahead of an official launch at 7pm on Thursday.
Avalanche Records owner Kevin Buckle, whose former shop on the Grassmarket closed its doors in 2014 after 30 years, said he leapt at the chance to be part of the initiative.
He said: “This idea is something I have a real affinity with, and something I could help out with. It’s a great site and the place looks amazing on the inside. It’s always been a problem that the space is used during the Festival and at Christmas but no other time, but the council is keen for it to be used all the time.”
At least two local artists who currently run stalls on the Royal Mile will move into the new market including Gerry Gapinski, who creates jewellery from the mechanisms of old watches and collages of Edinburgh made up of photos.
He said: “It’s nice to be under a roof, but what I’m selling coincides with the inside of the Tron Kirk, with the stained-glass windows and the history of the interior.”
While the market stalls will still need to make way for venue space during the Festival and Hogmanay when the lease runs out, organisers hope that the scheme will eventually become a permanent feature.
Councillor Alasdair Rankin, the city’s finance convener, welcomed the move. He said: “The Tron Kirk is a valuable historic landmark and this is a great opportunity to keep the building in use, giving residents and visitors access to the building while visiting the market.”