The landmark former Watt Brothers store in Glasgow has been bought and is to be refurbished as part of a rejuvenation plan expected to cost more than £20m.
McGill’s Buses owners Sandy and James Easdale have bought the prominent, art deco building which stands on the corner of Sauchiehall Street and Bath Street in the city centre.
The 80,000 sq ft building has been vacant since the store fell into administration last year.
The brothers bought it in a deal with Watt Brothers’ administrators KPMG.
Planning options for the building are already being examined with the likely option being a a mixed use development comprising hotel and residential accommodation.
Early estimates suggest the project will cost at least £20m to transform the premises and contribute to the current wide-ranging efforts to revive Sauchiehall Street.
Sandy Easdale said: “This is a landmark building loved by generations of Glaswegians.
“It was sad to see the store close last year but when the opportunity arose to purchase the building and redevelop it for the future then we knew we had to take it.
“We believe the building has great potential for hotel and residential use and we’re already engaged with expert consultants to see what can be achieved.
It has a proud past and we are certain it will have an even brighter future.
“This project will play an important part in reinvigorating this part of Sauchiehall Street and contributes to almost £400m of property and construction developments we currently have underway as a family.”
The northern end of the building was initially built in 1914 and latterly extended into the southern building, which fronts Bath Street, linked at second and third floors by an archway over Sauchiehall Lane.
A third building on Sauchiehall Lane was added to the ownership in the 1980s. The property has been in department store use since initial construction. The building is Category B Listed and located within the Central Area Conservation Area.
James Easdale said: “The building has more than a century of history and tradition and benefits from brilliant art deco features. This is one of the attractions of the building and will play a part in its rejuvenation.
“Whilst many are shying away from investing during the pandemic, we are very optimistic that the economy will bounce back in due course.
“Our transport businesses remain hugely important to us but investing in property and construction is a real focus at a time when new opportunities are constantly presenting themselves.”
Among the other projects the Easdales are driving forward are a huge £250m, 850-home housing development at a 130-acre site in Glenrothes.
The development in partnership with Advance Construction at the former Tullis Russell paper mill will feature 850 new homes, a care home, retirement village, commercial, retail and leisure space and has already been approved by Fife Council.
The former IBM plant at Spango Valley in Greenock is currently subject to a planning application for a £100m mixed-use masterplan which would include up to 450 new homes, alongside areas of new employment, leisure, community and retail use.