Hotel is symbol of bright future for Glasgow

02 Nov 2009

by Vivienne Nicoll, Evening Times

A new £140million landmark hotel and office development will dominate the Glasgow skyline.

Planners have given the go-ahead to the ambitious project, the first of its kind in the city, on the former site of the Albany Hotel in Bothwell Street.

The project is the brainchild of the Aberdeen-based European Development Company, and Richard Blair of Glasgow firm Aedas Architects.

An 18-storey glass tower housing offices will soar into the sky, topped off with a dramatic crown.

Attached to it will be a five star hotel with 320 bedrooms, a brasserie, lounge bar, piano bar, luxury spa, health and fitness facilities and conference centre capable of taking 1000 people. Because of a difference in street levels, the hotel will be 10 storeys on Bothwell Street and 12 on Douglas Street.

The developer is understood to be in discussions with a leading hotel chain but refused to give any details.

One of the challenges for Mr Blair is that the new building will be clearly visible to anyone visiting the Gallery of Modern Art in the city centre.

He said: "Effectively we had to create a backdrop for Goma so we have worked in conjunction with city planners to achieve that, which in turn creates a landmark tower."

Mr Blair insists building work will not be delayed by the recession, which has resulted in many other projects in the city being put on ice until conditions improve.

He said: "My understanding is that the client wants to open the hotel in October 2011 so we have to start construction by October this year.

"What is unique about this development is it is probably the first mixed use development in Glasgow in terms of having a hotel, offices, functions and leisure all happen on one city block.

"I cannot think of another city block where someone can go into a hotel, pick up some breakfast, go to the gym and then go and sit at their desk all under one roof.

"This building will generate its own life and will regenerate that end of Bothwell Street."

City council senior planning officer Elaine Murray said there had been lengthy discussions with the developer to get a building suitable for the high-profile site next to the M8.

She added: "The tower has fins on it and there is an LED lighting display which can be use to light the building."

Scott Taylor, chief executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said he was delighted a new hotel was to be built on the site of the Albany.

And he praised developer EDC for looking after many of the staff who worked in the hotel before it was flattened.

Mr Taylor said: "There was a great deal of sadness in the hotel community when what was the Albany was knocked down. Many staff had been at the hotel for a considerable number of years but EDC employed as many as it could and continue to do so.

"There is now a real sense of elation that out of the ashes of the Albany will emerge a new hotel - one they can be proud of and part of.

"The hotel owners have been very careful to look after the staff and understand the hotel site has enormous affection in the hearts of the people of Glasgow. I believe we will see the rise of a new Glasgow landmark in the same way the Albany was in the 1970s. It was the Glasgow watchword for quality.

Mr Taylor added: "The investment company have chosen Glasgow because they know it is a safe haven for hotel operators and this venture will undoubtedly be successful.

"Clearly it is a great investment in Glasgow and will provide a large range of jobs in a city that is crying out for more hotels.

"It will come at a time when we need it most with the new arena at the SECC coming on stream in 2012.

"Glasgow is a brave city and requires investors to be brave.

"EDC is saying it will not be bowed by the economic downturn and I think Glasgow will not be bowed either.

"People need good news to be able to sustain their business so I am delighted EDC have got confidence in Glasgow."

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Investors check in to develop city

A number of major hotel developments are in the pipeline for Glasgow.

The Dubai-based Jumeirah Group is to set up a £125million six star hotel in the International Financial Services District.

Intercontinental group has the go-ahead to build a £7.2m 20-storey hotel on Jamaica Street.

Last year Glasgow Harbour unveiled plans to turn the Pump House next to the SECC into a boutique hotel and restaurant, and consortium QMD Glasgow proposed an 85-bedroom hotel on the former BBC site in Queen Margaret Drive.

There are also plans for a 200-bedroom hotel on the site of the Athletes Village, and permission has been given for hotels in Jamaica Street, Ingram Street, Finnieston, the former RAC club at Blythswood Square and at the STV studios.

Further hotels are planed for Oswald Street, Bath Street, Clyde Street, Finnieston, Waterloo Street and the Trongate.

Councillor George Ryan said: "The number of hotel developers coming to Glasgow and keen to come to Glasgow shows the strength of the industry in the city and the confidence investors hold in it."

Reproduced with the permission of the Herald & Times Group.

  • Architect's impression by Aedas Architects

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Bothwell Plaza
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