Chris Stewart Group purchases 42 St Andrew Square

The Edinburgh-based property developer and investment business responsible for the award-winning regeneration of Advocate’s Close in the capital’s Old Town, the Chris Stewart Group, has purchased 42 St Andrew Square and adjoining building on West Register Street for an undisclosed sum.

The 1942 neo-classical listed building on the South East corner of one of Edinburgh’s iconic Georgian squares has stood empty for over seven years and was recently added to the ‘at risk’ register. The purchase by Chris Stewart will now ensure the building’s future and play an important part in the reinvigoration of the area from St Andrew Square through to the St James’ Quarter.

The aim is to transform the two neighbouring buildings that were once RBS’s headquarters to deliver a mixed use development for the West Register Lanes vicinity introducing 60,000 sq ft of Grade A office accommodation alongside hotel, serviced apartments, retail and restaurant operations. The total area offers 130,000sq ft of development opportunity.

Consultations have now begun on renovations as well as eventual use with the intention of bringing forward a planning application within the next six months.

Chris Stewart commented:

“The purchase has just been completed, and there will now be a period of investigation and consultation to assess how best to sensitively redevelop the buildings to secure their future physically and economically. That said we want to move quickly as the buildings and the area deserve to be given new life. We see tremendous scope for a vibrant mixed use development that will add a new dynamic to the area around West Register Lanes with good street level activity and world class hotel and office accommodation.

“Our focus as a business is on giving heritage buildings a viable and dynamic future and we recognise and understand the challenges and rewards of working in a sensitive world heritage site. We are very proud of what we have achieved at Advocate’s Close and it is our ambition to do the same for the grand and imposing building at number 42, St Andrew Square.”

With a track record for executing complex transformational city-centre redevelopment projects, the Chris Stewart Group recently secured significant investment capital from Proprium Capital Partners, a global investment advisory firm.

The first deal concluded by the new partnership involved the purchase of Baxter’s Place, a historic Georgian terrace building in Edinburgh’s city centre, which is designated for 240-bed upmarket hotel development. The deal for 42 St Andrew Square, which involved the complex acquisition of non-performing loans backed by the property, was also secured with funding from Proprium.

CSG’s long term objective is to invest in high quality prime locations, drawing on its extensive relationships and experience.

Cllr Frank Ross, Convener of the Economy Committee, said:

“This is welcome news as the Council have been working with the Chris Stewart Group, the Scottish Government, Royal Bank of Scotland and the developer of the St James Quarter, TIAA Henderson Real Estate, to look at ways of improving this whole area and to drive forward regeneration at the east end of the city centre. This iconic building is a crucial piece of the jigsaw as it will help to unlock further investment in the Registers Lane area, a key location linking St James Quarter and St Andrew Square.

“There is a report going to the Economy Committee this month to propose that I chair a steering group to facilitate discussions between all parties involved in ensuring that this area has more attractive public space and improved links to Princes Street and the St James Quarter.”