Dundee City Council has spent over £23,000 maintaining a ‘flagship’ Waterfront office building which has lain empty, despite opening to great fanfare last year.
Figures published by the local authority show that total includes £4068.36 spent on unexpected fixes for the Earl Grey Building, described in promotional material as “outstanding grade A office space in Scotland’s new capital of cool”.
The building was the first major office development completed in May last year but is yet to attract any tenants.
Brochures boast the building offers “exceptional value” – but to date the council has had to spend £23,382.12 on keeping the unoccupied block in shape.
The council has spent £9,500 alone on powering the empty building, and £1,550.46 on gas.
Almost £6,800 of costs have been incurred for routine property maintenance fees – and £4,000 has been spent on “unplanned” repairs and maintenance.
Both Dundee City Council and estate agent Ryden have stated for several months that there has been strong interest in the Earl Grey Building.
Council leader John Alexander told BBC News last year he hoped to be able to name tenants by the end of 2019. However, no announcement has ever taken place.
It has been previously suggested that inaction at the Earl Grey has discouraged further investment in the Waterfront.
Details of maintenance costs come just weeks after the 2020/21 budget was signed off – which includes thousands of pounds of staff cuts.
The City Centre and Harbour Community Council, which welcomed the Waterfront development, has called on the council to step up efforts to attract tenants.
Bill Newcombe, chairman, said: “We have concern at the situation where buildings and facilities on the Waterfront are provided and then left empty.
“The concern is on several fronts: having the buildings empty for long periods, in conjunction with the number of empty retail and office premises in Dundee, gives a very negative picture to potential developers.
“It suggests that there is no demand in the city. Although we are repeatedly informed by the council that there is plenty of interest, the fact is that the places are still empty.
“Then there are the costs that have to be paid to keep buildings empty, at times when finances are extremely tight. As usual, the taxpayer has no voice in this.”
“There needs to be more co-ordination from the planning department and consideration given to spending the available funds on buildings and projects that more economically viable – projects that will rapidly generate returns, presenting a much more positive picture to developers.”
The Tele asked Dundee City Council for further details of the repairs carried out on the brand new building, but the local authority did not respond to our queries.
Instead, a spokesman said: “It is important to ensure that we keep our buildings in a safe condition while they are unoccupied.
“Situated next to V&A Dundee and the refurbished railway station, with views over the River Tay, the Earl Grey Building is one of the best located speculative office developments in Scotland.
“It is large enough to accommodate several hundred new jobs.
“Due to its Grade A status, the building will attract a significant level of high rental income for the council once occupied.”