A former Aberdeen department store could be demolished and transformed into an “innovative architectural building” with “large, open public spaces” in an attempt to breathe new life into Union Street.
Developers Rockspring, who own the former BHS building and the adjoining indoor market, have submitted a proposal of application notice to completely overhaul the two buildings.
The London-based property investment company had previously put forward plans to build a 17-storey block of flats at the site of the former Granite Mile shop, however the city council refused to back the proposals after a study showed the project “would not be good for the council taxpayer”.
Further plans were also put forward for a retail-led refurbishment with the hope of attracting an anchor tenant but following the collapse of a number of high street giants such as House of Fraser, Toys R Us and Maplin, the decision was made by Rockspring to pursue a “mixed use, office-led” approach.
The firm hopes their project could fit in to the £1billion city centre masterplan.
The developers have now unveiled a fresh vision, which includes creating space for new shops on the Union Street side of the site, and offices, cafes and restaurants on The Green and Market Street sides. They also visualise creating wide open public areas with the aim of bolstering the “vitality of the east end of Union Street”.
Shaun Hose, the director of Rockspring, said: “The location and scale of this site presents major regeneration opportunities for Aberdeen city centre.
“Our aim is to create an innovative architectural building and greatly improve the surroundings, with large, open public spaces and pedestrian thoroughfares.
“The approach to design and development will be fundamental in terms of creating a successful piece of urban design, sadly lacking in the current building which is no longer fit for purpose.”
The old BHS building has lain empty since the department store giant collapsed in August 2016.
Included in the new plans to overhaul the site are proposals to “dramatically improve” the external facade of the Aberdeen Indoor Market, which backs on to the Green.
The expansive, ageing wall is currently home to the centrepiece of last year’s inaugural Nuart festival, and features an enormous artwork of a young girl holding a lighthouse.
Mr Hose added: “This will transform the current eyesore into a more attractive and contemporary focal point for the Merchant Quarter, in keeping with the improvements which have been made to The Green in recent years.
“Working closely with the council and in consultation with local stakeholders and the wider public, we want to come up with a proposal that fits with the city centre masterplan but also responds to market demand for smaller, more diverse retail and leisure outlets and office space.
“Ultimately, it’s about offering a long-term, sustainable solution for the site that enhances the vitality of the east end of Union Street.”
The developers intend to hold a public exhibition with more information about their proposals at the entrance to the former BHS department store on November 1 from noon to 8pm.