Workers are in a race against time to turn Aberdeen’s former Hilton Garden Inn into student flats by September.
The seven-storey complex on St Andrew Street closed when Covid struck, and bosses finally pulled the plug that autumn.
For more than three years, it has lain empty.
During that time, the building became the subject of a dispute between the council and developers eager to cash in on the city centre property.
But plans to reopen it as student accommodation were finally approved last year.
And this spring, builders arrived to begin the controversial conversion.
Work on student flats is under way at old Hilton Garden Inn
Papers sent to Aberdeen City Council show that the work started on April 3.
Joiners and other tradesmen can be seen coming and going, dumping unwanted material into a skip outside as they form new communal areas for young people to gather.
What was the row about?
The plans came at the same time as similar proposals – with the former Travelodge on Justice Mill Lane also becoming more than 100 student flats.
But other residents in the George Street area blasted the plans for the old Hilton Garden Inn.
Councillors later binned the proposal at a crunch meeting, saying the living conditions would be too “cramped”.
Work on Hilton Garden Inn student flats has ‘tight deadline’
The work comes after lenders Blackfinch Property gave the developers a loan of £9.7 million for the project.
They say only “minimal work” is required to turn it into “premium student accommodation”.
The company adds that all 105 rooms will be “larger than the typical studio rooms available in purpose-built student accommodation schemes”.
David Diemer, investment director at Blackfinch Property, said: “We had a tight deadline to allow the contractors to get on-site, and work to have the rooms ready for the September 2023 academic year.”
How will city benefit?
As part of the deal to transform the vacant hotel, Edinburgh-based Optimal Student will pay £36,000 into the area.
The cash could potentially go towards increasing capacity at nearby medical practices.