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Johnnie Walker visitor experience secured for former House of Fraser, Princes Street, Edinburgh

Posted: 19th February 2019

Parabola, the award-winning property developer and investor, has confirmed that it has finalised negotiations with Diageo to lease the iconic former House of Fraser store at the west end of Princes Street. Parabola purchased the building last year and have now secured vacant possession of the redundant department store in the past month.

House of Fraser, which is in administration, handed back the keys to the prominent west end building before Christmas 2018.

Parabola has confirmed that discussions are completed between Parabola and Diageo. A planning application has now been submitted to City of Edinburgh Council for the restoration of the building and its development for the Johnnie Walker visitor experience.

House of Fraser had occupied the building at 146 Princes Street since 1959 when it purchased the former Binn’s department store. Binn’s, an Edinburgh retail institution, operated from the site with RBS next door on Hope Street. House of Fraser combined both buildings to create the site that Parabola now owns. Binn’s operated on the site from 1934 purchasing the Maule’s department store which had operated on Princes Street from 1893 prior to this the site was built and operated as The Osborne Hotel from 1873.

Commenting on the repurposing of the west end building, Peter Millican, Chairman of Parabola said:

“We are delighted to have finalised terms with a very exciting new occupier for the building. Diageo propose to bring back the building to life, creating many new jobs and reenergising this end of Princes Street. The Johnnie Walker visitor experience will be a great asset to the city.

Parabola purchased this building as a long-term investment and we are committed to addressing the building’s decline and in partnership with Diageo create a showcase development in the west end of Princes Street which will revitalise the building and its local environment.

A Diageo spokesperson said: “The building at 146 Princes Street is an ideal location for the Johnnie Walker visitor experience and we will be engaging with the local authority to realise the full potential for the redevelopment of the building.

“This is one of the city’s landmark buildings and we want to explore its regeneration in a way that respects its unique heritage and place in Edinburgh city centre. The Johnnie Walker visitor experience will be a valuable asset to the city.”

Tony Hordon, Managing Director, added:

“Since purchasing the building we have been inundated with approaches. We have taken great care to ensure we considered all the approaches given just how special this building is to Parabola and the City of Edinburgh.

“At Parabola we feel like the custodians of a beautiful piece of Edinburgh real estate and we have taken great care to consider its future. 146 Princes Street represents an opportunity to deliver our core values: place, quality and destination. With Diageo and their vision we believe we have a use which will not only protect the building for many years to come, but it also celebrates the building, its history and its heritage.

“We are particularly excited to be working with the Diageo team given our shared values and our sheer ambition to celebrate what was one of Edinburgh’s great buildings.”

The commercial agents for the transaction were C&W advising the landlord, Parabola, and JLL advising the tenant, Diageo.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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