A senior council official has revealed rental income from three new public buildings in Union Terrace Gardens is not expected to significantly offset the multi-million-pound bill for the Victorian park’s ongoing overhaul.
The local authority’s resources director, Steve Whyte, said there was “no intention” of the newly-built pavilions recouping the £28 million cost.
Speaking to councillors at the capital committee, Mr Whyte said: “There was no intention that the units would effectively pay for the gardens.
“The idea is to enhance the gardens, enhance the footfall and if we can get an income stream from those buildings then that would be to the positive in terms of the council’s revenue budget.
“We hopefully will get a plethora of offers back from the market and then we would look to do the assessment of those.
At the meeting in March, he added: “One of the things we would look into is how complementary they are to the use of the gardens – is it something that would attract footfall and look at the the offerings around as well.”
Council’s newest properties marketed for lease
Last week property agent FG Burnett listed the three pavilions – at Union Street, halfway up Union Terrace near the Robert Burns statue and off Rosemount Viaduct – for lease.
The major refurbishment of the gardens is hoped to be completed, bar some season-dependent landscaping, this winter.
Estimated rental incomes from the premises are based on a 2017 business case – which Mr Whyte admitted was a “completely different” prospect to the post-Covid, post oil downturn market today.
Largest of all three, the Union Street Pavilion, near the Edward VII statue, is three-storeys and described as a “restaurant-sized flagship”, boasting access to the refurbished Victorian toilets.
The Burns Pavilion is two-storeys and will better access to the gardens with its 15-passenger lift.
Across from His Majesty’s Theatre, the Rosemount Pavilion is the smallest and will be near the reinstated ‘grand staircase’ coming off the viaduct.
Boulton: ‘More to value than just pound and pence’ in Union Terrace Gardens
It comes as capital convener, councillor Marie Boulton, suggested income from one of the new spaces might be surrendered to offer affordable space for the cultural sector – more than a decade after plans for a contemporary art centre in the Victorian park fell to the wayside.
She said: “Probably what we were thinking about was that one of the three buildings would be given over to some kind of cultural activity which we recognise is often subsidised by the council or government.
“There is more to value for the council than just pounds and pence; it’s about what it can bring in terms of activity.
“It could be one of the buildings could become a cultural hub whereas the other two may well quite self-sustaining in terms of generating revenue.
Mrs Boulton added: “I’m quite comfortable with where we are, especially having heard there is a lot of interest in the buildings from the private sector.”
Council chiefs will assess would-be tenants in the coming weeks, before bringing forward recommendations to the city growth and resources committee.