PROPOSALS to turn the former Watt Brothers department store into a luxury hotel have been submitted to Glasgow city planners.
The 80,000 sq ft B-listed premises on Sauchiehall Street and Bath Street at Hope Street were bought by Greenock businessmen Sandy and James Easdale in 2020 following the shop’s closure in 2019. Initial interest from hotel operators is described as strong.
Sandy Easdale said: “We wanted a classy design that would maximise the use of the huge site but would not compromise the unique character of the original building. The building benefits from brilliant art deco features and this will play a part in its rejuvenation.”
James Easdale added: “We are also acutely aware of the strategic shortage of hotel room supply in Glasgow and we feel this is a stepping stone on the way to restoring Glasgow to the great shopping and leisure centres like Edinburgh and other great English cities.”
A planning application has now been lodged seeking permission to convert the upper floors into a hotel including adding new floors.
A design document states the additional levels are required to “achieve the appropriate amount of bedrooms to attract the quality of end-user” needed to deliver the project.
The site has two buildings — the original Sauchiehall Street store (the north building), built in 1914, linked by bridged accommodation over Sauchiehall Lane to an extension built in 1929 on the Bath Street side (the south building).
The basement, ground and mezzanine levels on the Sauchiehall Street side would remain available for retail use, although no end user has been identified.
The Easdale brothers hope that other UK property entrepreneurs will see the enormous opportunities there are on offer in Glasgow and follow their lead.
Sandy added: “Glasgow may have temporarily lost some of its glamour, but the energy of Glasgow folk remains undiminished and the younger generation both here and in Europe love the vibrancy of the place.”
The project’s design statement explains that it has not been possible to find a new retail occupier for the whole building in its current configuration which is described as a “confusing labyrinth of levels and spaces…not suited to modern retail operations and the expectations of the consumer”.
The application is pending assessment by city planners.
The Easdale brothers have £750million worth of projects in the UK.
James said: “Despite the two-year hiatus of the pandemic, Sandy and I have always taken the view that opportunity can come from adversity. We are very optimistic that the economy will bounce back in due course. Whilst our transport businesses which include McGill’s Buses remain hugely important to us, property and construction investment opportunities in England and Scotland are constantly presenting themselves.”