Plans approved to reopen Jenners as luxury hotel

Jenners’ department store in Edinburgh is set to “return to its former glory” as it reopens as a luxury hotel with a rooftop bar.

Edinburgh City Council has given permission for the plans, with Downtown City Councilman Joe Mowat saying the redevelopment “carried out with sensitivity” would give the building “a new lease on life”.

The Jenners occupied a space at the east end of Princess Boulevard for 184 years.

Frasers Group’s former occupiers closed its store last year, leaving its future in doubt, but AAA United A/S – the holding company of Anders Holch Povlsen – then revealed plans to convert it into a mixed-use building.

The Danish billionaire bought the site for £53 million in 2017 and promised to keep the building’s early Renaissance facade.

Key aspects of the original Jenners store will be kept in place, such as the central lobby and outdoor signage, which the council ordered to be returned last year after being removed by the Fraser Group.

However, the building will undergo major alterations to make way for a 96-bedroom hotel on the upper floors, with the addition of a new seventh floor to the 1905 extension at the corner of South Saint David Street and Rose Street, providing space for a gym, vegetable container and rooftop terrace bar.

In the lower sections, Jenners will remain in traditional use as a shopping destination, with retail spaces and food and beverage outlets from basement to first floor.

In a statement provided with planning documents, AAA United A/S Director Anders Krogh said: “We understand the scale of the challenge and are fully dedicated to honoring this building and its place in Edinburgh’s future.

“We knew that one day the Jenners Building would be vacant, and we would have a moral obligation to restore it to its former glory.

“The original Jenners building will always remain the DNA of our plans, with a vibrant, sustainable and accessible department store redevelopment to be the heart of the project.”

Peek at the Central Atrium Restoration
Peek at the Central Atrium Restoration

The plans went to the Edinburgh City Council’s Department of Development subcommittee for final approval on Wednesday and council members unanimously approved permission for the works, as well as a change of use and building approval included.

Governor Mowat said: “I have a deep affection for the Jenners Building and am also in the position that I saw the scheme of all these buildings, because I was fortunate enough to go up the Dundas Monument earlier and look down on that, so improving that is really important to the city.

“It is great to see a project driven by conservation, care and attention to open up space and bring back light.

“I think rebuilding a building into the use of natural light makes an enhanced space and will allow it to shine, so I really welcome this project – I think it was done very sensitively.”

SNP Board Member Neil Gardiner added: “I think the design sets a model for how such buildings can be reused, it exudes the simplicity that it is at the moment of moving through the building.

“I am also pleased to see this level of investment in downtown Edinburgh, there is clearly a decline in retail around the world and it is good to see people wanting to invest in retail in Edinburgh.”

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