Secret Scotland

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Glasgow’s Egyptian Halls could finally be rescued from dereliction

It’s odd how everybody seems to have their own collection of buildings/features that they become familiar with, while others, which may be equally interesting and not much different, go unnoticed.

Despite having passed the 4-storey building for may years, Glasgow’s Egyptian Halls – one of the few remaining buildings credited to Alexander “Greek” Thomson – on Union Street, have never caught my eye. Perhaps lying abandoned and being ruined by neglect for the past 33 years played a part. Built in 1873, it escaped possible demolition in 2011 after such an application was refused.

Looking at the record for the building, it seems that various development plans have been floated since the late 1990s, but in most cases these have failed as various parties involved have been unable to come up with the cash or grants to fund them. Some even started, but then ran into problems and were halted.

All the time, the building continued to decay due to lack of care and maintenance.

Around the end of 2010, scaffolding was erected and the building was wrapped in tarpaulins carrying an image of the building as it would look if restored.

Since then, it seems that serious negotiations have been going on regarding development of the building, and the financing of that work.

The Glaswegian reported:

An ambitious plan to restore the building and turn it into a luxury hotel stalled because of a funding gap of around £5million.

But the building’s owners have confirmed they are applying to the Heritage Lottery fund to plug the shortfall that is holding up work to save the A-listed building.

If successful, ­Historic Scotland could make a further £1.65million available for repair work to the site.

And:

The plan emerged as one of the building’s owners, Derek Souter, issued another plea for collaboration from the public sector.

The firms behind the Egyptian Halls Project, USP and USI, have warned
that ­unless their original £20million ­development goes ahead, the building will become too derelict to save.

It has stood since 1873 but came under threat of demolition in 2011, when ­co-owners USP could not fund their share of the statutory repairs.

The co-owners have said they can raise an additional £12million on top of the ­£5million they have already invested.

But owners say the future of the Egyptian Halls cannot be guaranteed beyond the next 12 to 18 months without more money.

Mr Souter said: “Given the evidence of the accelerating decay is now in the public ­domain, this needs to become an urgent priority at Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government.”

He says there is a “very real” threat of demolition because bodies including the council and Historic Scotland haven’t ­collaborated with his development plan.

Via Glasgow’s iconic Egyptian Halls in line for repair as owners draw-up rescue plan – the Glaswegian

This article goes into more detail:

Hotel site plea for council aid, by Colin Donald

This web site dedicated to the Halls provides further detail and an archive of the building’s past:

The Egyptian Halls Project

On reflection, I might add that it not only this building that is a sad case.

When I was (very little), my grandfather used to take me along Argyle Street as a treat, while he visited what appeared to be many auction rooms based in the floors above the more well-known shops.

I’d like to visit those places now, but a walk along Argyle Street in recent years is just depressing, as a glance above the shops shows the same places are empty and abandoned now. And given the state of the windows, I’d guess they are derelict, and the structure of most of those buildings is now just rotting away behind them.

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August 7, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , ,

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