During the 1990s, the Jailhouse nightclub in Elgin was renowned for its cage where partygoers danced.
The nightclub was designed with the theme of an American prison.
And at midnight, somewhat bizarrely, a dummy would be placed in a fake electric chair and fried.
It was open for 18 months before a blaze engulfed the building and forced it to close.
The Jailhouse, Elgin
Fast forward 25 years on, the building once packed with clubbers on Friday and Saturday nights remains vacant.
Watch some drone footage filmed by Jason Hedges of what the site looks like now:
In 2009, Banff-based developer William McBey bought the disused nightclub with the vision to give the prominent building fresh life.
Initial plans included the site being transformed into a student accommodation complex.
Architects drew up plans to create 40 rooms over its three storeys.
In March 2018, Moray Council approved this transformation. It would have included eight one-bedroom and six two-bedroom homes, spread across the building’s four floors.
Each unit would have its own open-plan lounge and kitchen with an en suite bathroom.
However, neither plan came to fruition.
What happened to the Jailhouse?
For years, locals have wondered why these proposals never worked out – and when something might happen.
Alan Robertson, McBey’s business partner in the Jailhouse plans, has revealed the reasons to the Press and Journal for the first time.
Mr Robertson said: “I know people have always spoken passionately about the Jailhouse and wanted the former nightclub site redeveloped.
“I’m a bit disappointed our plans haven’t worked out as it is a great site and location in terms of where it is in the Elgin town centre.
“The student accommodation plans were a real opportunity – until the new student accommodation in Elgin was built for University Of The Highlands And Islands.”
Meanwhile, Mr Robertson who already has serviced apartments in Elgin, said the planned apartments at the Jailhouse site were close to happening.
He explained: “One thing that stopped us in our tracks was Covid.
“We had planning approved and was ready to go through the building warrant process.
“We had a builder in place and funding available.
“Then Covid struck and when everything was good for work to start the availability of materials and builders disappeared.
“That was the point that made us stop and think what are we going to do here?”
What does the future hold for the former Elgin nightclub?
After much reflection, they were made aware of the Elgin town centre masterplan and wondered if the Jailhouse could be included in the regeneration proposals.
He added: “We became aware of the broader regeneration efforts and realised it made more sense to collaborate with wider stakeholders.
“Handing over the site for a more comprehensive town centre development was better than building around our own project.
“It is going to be much better that the whole block is redeveloped as one.”
Alan Robertson and William McBey are in ongoing negotiations to sell the former Jailhouse site to Robertsons who has overall responsibility for the South Street regeneration project.
He explained: “We reached out to Robertsons in late 2020, when we realised things were getting worse.
“We were aware Robertsons were involved with Moray Council in plans to transform Elgin.
“We have had an agreement between Robertsons, the council and ourselves for some time.”
All parties are aiming for the sale of the site to be completed by the end of the year.
He can’t wait to see the development take place which he believes will help put Elgin on the map.
‘Full details to be published soon’
A Moray Council spokeswoman said: “The redevelopment of the Junners stores, Newmarket bar, Jailhouse and 53/55 South Street for a mixed use development is a proposal in the Elgin City Centre Masterplan that was approved by Committee in November 2021.
“The South Street redevelopment also formed a major part of the Levelling Up Fund bid that the Council was unsuccessful in earlier this year. Full details will be published soon.”