Visitors to Calton Hill in Edinburgh will be familiar with the views across the city to the castle perched on the horizon. Now they are seeing some significant changes to the famous city skyline emerging north and south of Princes St.
One of the largest office developments currently under construction is nearing completion, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of the Old Town.
Almost 3,000 civil servants will soon relocate to the 190,000 sq ft building off the Royal Mile which will become one of 13 UK hubs for HM Revenue & Customs under a 25-year lease.
The building occupies the site of a former depot and despite being derelict for some years was the subject of a long-running wrangle over its future use.
The £200 million development on 7.5 acres sits between Canongate and Calton Road and includes three hotels and two cafes.
Views from Calton Hill (as seen in the photo above) show how the office development blends with its neighbours, unlike the brutal high-rise university buildings in the distance. The roofline also carefully manages to conceal air conditioning and heating machinery which is often ruinously visible on modern buildings.
There are large expanses of flat roof space, providing room for gardens and relaxation, echoing similar features on the adjacent City Council building.
Artisan Real Estate Investors last year sold the HMRC building to Legal & General for whom it was the fourth Government hub forward funding deal.
The skyline to the north is littered with cranes slowly dragging the new St James Centre from the depths of an underground car park to its full height.
Spanish retail group Inditex has signed leases for four of its brands in the development, one of the biggest construction sites in the UK.
Zara will take a three-floor, 37,000 sq ft store in the 1.7 million sq ft development. Bershka, Stradivarius and Pull & Bear will take stores of 9,300 sq ft, 6,000 sq ft and 8,000 sq ft respectively within the main centre.
Edinburgh St James’ retail is on course to open next year, comprising 850,000 sq ft of retail space across five floors. Next has already signed up while John Lewis has remained open throughout the building work. It has seen a dip in sales and is undergoing a refit.
The development will include 30 places to eat and drink, two hotels and residential apartments, as well as nine event spaces.