Uncertainty over potential tenants for the first office block completed at Dundee’s waterfront could be holding up further progress in the area, it has been suggested.
Retail and cafe units at Dundee’s £38million railway station entrance remain empty 18 months on from opening.
Eros Retail, a Fife-based retail firm, is poised to open a Greens of Dundee convenience store in the station, but is yet to have its proposal signed off by the council.
Harris Aslam, a director of Eros, said he had “great confidence” in the proposal being signed off. He did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Last year Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said he was “absolutely confident” that the Earl Grey Building on Site 6 at the waterfront would be fully occupied.
However, as of yet no tenants have been announced for the block, which was completed in May.
Council sources continue to insist that interest in the building – named after the Earl Grey Dock which once sat in its place – is “very positive”.
However, a new financial report suggests that momentum is continuing to slow.
West End councillor Fraser Macpherson has suggested that potential tenants are holding off until they see tangible progress at the Earl Grey Building – the contentious office block on Site 6 opposite V&A Dundee.
But Mr Macpherson – a keen advocate of the city centre WiFi and 5G testbed project – believes progress on the Waterfront will ramp up in 2020.
Mr Macpherson said: “I think there is positive news to come with regards to the office block and if and when that’s resolved that will help with the units at the station.
“Quite clearly, having an office block over the road full of people will be encouraging.
“There are positive developments coming forward, the 5G project is moving forward with momentum as is Waterfront Place.
“We all accept that it wasn’t going to be delivered in one fell swoop – but I know the hard work the staff in economic development in the council are putting into this.”
On Monday, councillors will be told that a planned £4.7m of spending on the AC hotel set to sit beside the Earl Grey Building is being delayed into 2020/21.
In September officers pushed back £12.16m of funding earmarked for the same purpose – a move they tactically referred to as a “rephasing” of the budget.
In all, Dundee City Council intended to spend £27.5m on waterfront projects between April 2019 and this March.
But that figure has shrunk to a total of just £5m – less than a fifth of the spending originally intended for the year.
In the report being presented to the council’s policy and resources committee on January 13, finance boss Gregory Colgan says there are still details of the project being worked out that prevent construction from proceeding.
And the paper still says the project will complete on time – by March next year.
He wrote: “The business model of the proposed development is currently being prepared.
“The Council’s capital plan is reviewed regularly and the original capital allocation was provisional.
“The funding for this project has been rephased to allow for preparation of a business case which will then be considered by councillors.”
Earlier this week the Tele reported on a lack of information over the progress of the Studio Dundee project at Site 2 – currently the Yeaman Shore car park.
The development is meant to be a “co-working” space and over 100 to-let flats in the city centre, designed to keep university graduates in the city after leaving education.
However, Dundee City Council will say nothing other than that site survey works have taken place to ensure construction can go ahead – the stance it has taken since the last substantial project update over a year ago.
Emails to Our Enterprise Ltd, a planning consultancy that is working in partnership with the council to realise the project, have been bounced back since last week.
Dundee City Council has been approached for comment.