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Four Inverness centre buildings that will get a new lease of life in 2024 – and one we are set to lose

New uses for some city landmarks

Donald Mackay and Stuart Forrester hope the landmark premises will become a popular live music venue
Image Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Donald Mackay and Stuart Forrester hope the landmark premises will become a popular live music venue Image Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

A number of Inverness’s landmark buildings have closed recently – but what is expected to happen to them in the new year?

We know some will have new uses which will bring change to the city centre in 2024.

For others the future is more uncertain.

Here we look at five premises where developments are expected in the coming months.

Church to become Gaelic centre

The historic East Church closed in March and was on the market for offers over £230,000.

It was snapped up in October by Cultarlann Inbhir, a charity aiming to turn the property into a “modern, vibrant Gaelic cultural centre”.

Plans include a culture-themed café with Gaelic-speaking staff and a shop selling Gaelic merchandise.

There will also be an exhibition promoting the language, meeting rooms for learning and cultural activities and a venue for ceilidhs, concerts and other events.

East Church in Inverness
The East Church is to become a Gaelic centre. Image Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

It’s good news also for the Rose Street Foundry pub which is to re-open as a new bar, restaurant and live music venue in late January or early February.

The premises have been empty for over a year following the closure of the previous business.

The Cairngorm Brewery bought the building in 2013 and spent two years and £2.2 million on a major restoration.

It opened as a bar and restaurant in 2020 just days before the first lockdown.

It re-opened later, but rising staff and energy costs led to it closing in September 2022.

Rose Street Foundry bar prepares to re-open

The new tenant is Rio Sol, a company set up by partners Stuart Forrester and Donald Mackay.

They hope a new live music venue will make it a favourite new haunt for many locals and visitors.

As well as the bar and music venue downstairs, there is a 140-seat area upstairs for fine dining and functions.

New tenants of the Rose Street Foundry bar Donald Mackay and Stuart Forrester with Sam Faircliff, managing director of owners the Cairngorm Brewery.<br />Image Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

The Old High Church has a new owner, but for the moment their identity and their plans for the historic building are unknown.

The congregation voted in 2021 to close the church and retain the joint charge of St Stephen’s.

The decision was supported by the joint kirk session, Inverness Presbytery and the Church of Scotland’s general trustees.

The building, with connections dating back to St Columba, was then put on the market at offers over £150,000.

Several offers were received by the closing date in November with one being approved by the kirk session and the Church trustees.

Old High Friends’ bid unsuccessful

A Kirk spokesman said: “As the sale has not yet been concluded and it is a commercially sensitive matter, we are unable to give further details.”

The new owners are not the Friends of the Old High, formed in 2014 to help care for the building and welcome visitors.

It had plans for a performance, exhibition and community facility, but its bid was unsuccessful.

A spokesman for the group said: “We are somewhat disappointed, but how disappointed will depend entirely on who the successful bidder is, and what they intend to do with the building.”

The new owner of the Old High Church has yet to be revealedA new business is being actively sought for the site vacated by the Filling Station restaurant that shut in October.

The American-style diner occupied a prime site near Inverness Railway Station and the Eastgate Centre.

Estate agent Savills is marketing the building for rent.

The Filling Station was part of The Restaurant Group (TRG). Its leisure division was later acquired by the Big Table Group, operators of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia, Banana Tree, Café Rouge and Amalfi.

Who will fill up the Filling Station site?

The move raised hopes that Inverness would get another city centre eating place.

However, Big Table confirmed the Filling Station in Inverness was not part of the acquisition.

Discussions have been held with a number of parties about the site’s future, including the Eastgate Centre.

Centre manager Chris Kershaw said: “The building occupied by the Filling Station has the same owners of the Eastgate Centre, but is subject to a long lease to The Restaurant Group who have appointed Savills to assign their lease.

“It is in a prime site in the centre of Inverness.

The former Filling Station site is in a prime location in the centre of Inverness Image<br />Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

“We hope a new business, either another restaurant or someone else, will be interested in taking it over and add to the city centre offering.”

A spokeswoman for Savills said there has been a considerable number of viewings of the property.

“We are liaising with the landlord to mutually find a way to see the property re-occupied as quickly as possible.”

New hotel earmarked for Ironworks site

But one building set to go is the Ironworks music venue which is to be replaced by a 155-bed hotel.

Councillors voted in 2022 to approve the proposal by Bricks Capital to build a Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

The Ironworks held its last concert in February. It is hoped another venue can be found, although so far no new location has been identified.

Repeated attempts to contact Bricks Capital have been unsuccessful

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