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Record Business: Flats back in business; JOHN McEACHRAN reports on the new trend to turn city centre offices back into living quarters.


DEVELOPERS are helping to breathe new life into city centres by turning offices back into living accommodation.

The creation of residential properties in classic old buildings reverses the trend of the last 20 years.

Georgian townhouses in the New Town area of Edinburgh have long been popular for small to medium sized offices and have become a key feature of the city's commercial heart.

It is in these buildings that prestige accommodation has been secured for solicitors, finance houses and estate agents.

But now the tide is turning the other way and developers who have already converted some of Edinburgh's townhouses back into residential use are turning their eyes towards offices in what were once flats above shops in the main retails streets.

They are also looking west towards Glasgow. Lindsay Crawford of Grovemoor Developments said: "The marked swing of townhouse offices being converted back to houses and flats has now evolved further.

"We are identifying suitable properties above retail operations in city centres for reconversion to flats.

"The main benefit to the buyer once the conversion has been made is a prestigious central address and because of that a potentially sound investment. The downside is maybe having to commute to work on the edge of town - although at least this will be against the traffic."

Grovemoor converted three flats above the Starbucks coffee shop in George Street, Edinburgh - one of busiest retail centres in the city centre - into flats.

Two have already been sold and the developer is looking to buy similar types of property in the city centre for the same treatment.

Mr Crawford added: "Grovemoor are also actively looking for suitable property in Glasgow."

Edinburgh's drift towards city centre accommodation has been fuelled by a series of factors which have resulted in many businesses moving to business parks on the outskirts of town.

The demands of modern technology are often difficult to meet in listed buildings which can be difficult and expensive to adapt.

Meanwhile, bigger businesses have been gravitating to new purpose-designed buildings.

Mergers of banks, building societies and travel agents, have played their part, too, in creating new opportunities for conversion of properties.

There's life after shopping

THE boom in city centre homes is the latest in a series of people-friendly changes to city centres.

A new style of outlet, such as Cafe Rouge and All Bar One, have transformed city streets where once the only attraction after shops closed were the retail windows.

The transformation has continued with the arrival of the likes of Costa Coffee and Starbucks.

City centre sites for Tesco and Sainsbury's are helping, too.

It is a symptom of the new fashion of city centre living. Now there are new attractions to ensure that the bustle of city life doesn't evaporate when it's time for shopkeepers to draw down the shutters.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 4, 2001
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