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Stewart Milne Group set to buy Marcliffe Hotel

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The Stewart Milne Group is poised to buy the five-star Marcliffe Hotel in Aberdeen, with plans for a luxury housing development.

Mr Milne confirmed last night that the company has an option to acquire the North Deeside Road site.

Hotelier Stewart Spence had previously struck a deal with developer Gibson McCartney Ltd, which tabled plans for a £90million office complex.

However, it is understood that the application will now be withdrawn.

Mr Milne, speaking exclusively to the Press and Journal, said he hoped that a fresh planning application could be submitted in three to four months.

He said: “We will be coming forward with proposals for a residential development, but obviously, prior to that, we will be consulting widely with planners and the local community.

“It is quite a unique site, obviously the Lower Deeside area is a much sought-after location.

“We believe we can come forward with a development here that Aberdeen has never really had – the properties will be at the very top end of the market.”

Mr Milne would not provide details of the terms of the deal, and said it was too early to say how many homes would be part of the development.

However, he said there was a shortfall in terms of high-end executive housing in the Aberdeen area, particularly to cater for the oil and gas sector.

The Press and Journal revealed in October last year that the Marcliffe at Pitfodels was to close, with plans to replace it with a huge office building.

Mr Spence confirmed at the time that he would be bowing out of the hospitality industry after more than half a century.

He pledged the hotel would “go out with a bang” and embark on a year of celebration in its final 12 months of business before the doors shut for the last time.

And Mr Spence reassured customers planning weddings and functions that all bookings would be honoured up to November 2014.

The planned office development would have extended to 200,000sq ft, replacing the existing building, which was in line for demolition.

However, the proposals also included the retention of a restaurant and spa at the southern end of the site, with the intention to keep alive the Marcliffe name for years to come.

It was not clear last night if the restaurant plan would still go ahead.

The prestigious venue, which was officially opened at its third and present location by former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993, employs about 100 full-time and 80 part-time workers.

Five years ago, the hotel was close to being sold to European Development Co (Hotels) for a reported £17million-plus.

After that deal fell through, attempts were made to find a buyer for the hotel, although it was never officially put on the market.

The Marcliffe was first established in Aberdeen in 1948, when it housed touring performers visiting the Tivoli Theatre on Guild Street.

The band leader at the time, Clifford Jordan, spotted an opportunity and decided to buy a house in the city’s Queen’s Terrace to operate as a hotel.

Mr Spence bought the hotel in 1979, and it remained at the same location until 1983, when it moved to Queen’s Road and was named the New Marcliffe.

The third incarnation of the Marcliffe arrived in 1993, when the hotel moved to land at Beechwood House, Pitfodels, which had lain undeveloped since the late 1980s.

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