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Scheme may cost £20m

Easdales ponder hotel plan after buying Watt store

Easdale brothers in Watt Brothers store

Easdale brothers admire the Art Deco interior

Former Watt Brothers department store in Glasgow has been acquired by bus tycoons Sandy and James Easdale who are looking at options for the art deco gem that may cost £20 million.

The building on the corner of Sauchiehall Street and Bath Street has been vacant since the business fell into administration and closed last year.

Its new owners are looking to turn the 80,000 sq/ft of floorspace into a hotel or residential accommodation.

Re-purposing the building will be regarded as an important step in the revival of Sauchiehall Street.

The project brings the current property and construction projects being led by Sandy and James Easdale to around £400m. 

The store was part of the city for more than a century (pic: Terry Murden)

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.”

The northern end of the building was constructed in 1914 and in 1929 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.”

Amongst the major other projects the Easdales are driving forward are a huge £250 million, 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 homes, a care home, retirement village, commercial, retail and leisure space and has been approved by Fife Council. 

The former IBM plant at Spango Valley is currently subject to a planning application for a £100m mixed-use masterplan which would include up to 450 homes, alongside areas of new employment, leisure, community and retail use.

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