A multimillion-pound plan to revitalise and expand two of Aberdeen’s biggest shopping centres has been revealed.
The ambitious blueprint for the Bon Accord & St Nicholas centre – which includes installing an 800-seat luxury cinema and attracting seven new restaurants – will be lodged with planning chiefs today.
If approved, the project could create up to 300 jobs and bring “substantial economic benefits” to the north-east economy.
Last night, the developers also said the finished product could play a major part in revamping the heart of Aberdeen, complementing the landmark developments already under way, including the £107million Marischal Square scheme.
All the work would be carried out within the Bon Accord mall, including creating a new entrance from the Upperkirkgate at Drum’s Lane.
An external courtyard would provide access to the upper level, which is where developers want to create a seven-screen cinema with space for 800 people and open seven new restaurants.
The plans have been backed by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, which says the development could attract major investors to the city centre.
Craig Stevenson, Bon Accord & St Nicholas centre manager, said they wanted to create a unique, “high-end” leisure experience.
“We have a very strong track record of innovation and evolution in the retail sector and the proposed development project is viewed as the next significant step,” he added.
“What we are proposing is different from anything else on offer in Aberdeen.
“The cinema would be unique to the city, with a luxury approach, and the intention would be to replicate that by attracting a number of new and exciting restaurant names to the north-east.
“We are incredibly enthusiastic about these plans, which have the potential to bring substantial economic benefits to Aberdeen through the construction phase and then when complete.
“As well as our own significant financial commitment to the construction there will be additional investment by operators in the individual units, with very positive spin-offs to the economy in the north-east.”
Robert Collier, the chamber’s chief executive, said the expansion would be a major boost for other projects in the area.
“There is a wide range of individual developments taking place across the city, and confident private sector investment will be critical to achieving the regeneration of the city centre over the next few years,” he said.
“The proposed Bon Accord & St Nicholas development is one of these key developments, and a step towards realising the potential of Aberdeen city centre, which promises to enhance the city centre experience, create jobs, and confirm the importance of Aberdeen city centre as a regional retail centre.”
If approved by councillors, the restaurants could be operating by Autumn 2015, with the cinema complex opening early in 2016.
The Bon Accord and St Nicholas centres were bought over by asset management firm F&C REIT last year.
The sale was finalised just six months after the London-based company bought the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness as part of a £250million deal.