Edinburgh St James

A project ten years in the making.

In 2006 Henderson Global Investors (now Nuveen Real Estate) purchased the St James Shopping Centre and New St Andrews House (the offices above), bringing both assets under a single ownership for the first time. Culverwell was delighted to be appointed to provide strategic development and design guidance as well as letting, acquisition and asset management advice. 

Nuveen Real Estate’s detailed design creates a world-class five-storey multi-purpose shopping centre, with the retail levels anchored by John Lewis; restaurants, boutique Everyman Cinema, Roomzzz Aparthotel and luxury W Edinburgh hotel, both due to open in 2023, and residential together with three further levels of car parking sitting directly beneath the Centre.   Nine on-site event spaces host over 100 fashion and music events over the year, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  In total the new building provides 1.7m sq ft of accommodation, of which 750,000 sq ft is retail and links to Multrees Walk, which offers a further 250,000 sq ft of retail anchored by Harvey Nichols. This replaces the great ‘carbuncle’ of the city centre, known as such for its 1960s brutalist architecture and is one of the most significant city-centre transformations in the UK.  The retail-led lifestyle district integrates with Edinburgh's transport network, cultural calendar and historic fabric. 

The Centre comprises three curved prime malls running between Princes Street and Multrees Walk, with fourth and fifth levels for restaurants and a cinema.   The upper retail mall units benefit from double-height shop fronts and all shop units have been designed throughout to meet tenants’ specific requirements. Culverwell has advised on tenant mix as well as unit design and jointly let six MSUs along with over 61 shops and 24 cafes/restaurants.

Key Tenants

John Lewis – remained open throughout construction and has been extensively refreshed

Next – has opened a flagship store

H&M – has opened a new store across two floors

Inditex – has brought four of its key fashion brands to Edinburgh St James, including Zara

Bonnie & Wild – is a food hall centred on level four that demonstrates the very best of Scottish produce and hospitality, while also delivering a uniquely theatrical experience

Duck & Waffle – brings its signature culinary style and takes on British cuisine with a restaurant on level 4 overlooking register Square


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Culverwell is honoured to be part of the team that has created an unparalleled retail and multi-use building.

In 2014 detailed planning permission was granted for the new Centre and Culverwell was instructed to enter into negotiations with existing tenants to secure vacant possession for the commencement of the £1bn development in 2016. A new streamlined John Lewis was designed and refurbished and remains in situ as the Edinburgh St James main anchor. Culverwell carried out negotiations to remove all tenants apart from John Lewis prior to closure of the Centre, albeit a number of the tenants have taken new leases in the redeveloped Edinburgh St James. 

A successful Public Inquiry was held and a Compulsory Purchase Order obtained to deal with the 10% of interests that could not be dealt with by Private Treaty, only one of which proceeded to Lands Tribunal.

During the redevelopment, construction contractor, Laing O’Rourke adopted sustainable practices throughout and considered waste management, pollution mitigation, energy and water efficiency. The new energy Centre also supplies hot water and heat to buildings within Edinburgh St James and waste is taken to Forth Ports where it is crushed and subsequently recycled.

 Integration within the wider Edinburgh community has also been key. The retail and hospitality skills academy, FUSE, seeks to minimise the impact of employee displacement caused by the redevelopment. The aspiration is that graduates will receive industry-recognised qualifications that match global good practice within the hospitality and retail sector.

Edinburgh St James is in our opinion the best prime covered shopping mall in the UK and was designed and built to meet shopper and tourist needs. Culverwell is honoured to have been part of the team that created an unparalleled retail and multi-use building. It was formally opened by Princess Anne in September 2022 after a soft opening in June 2021. Presently there are 2 retail units to let with all the restaurants trading successfully. The W Hotel will open in November 2023.

Edinburgh St James features some of the world's top brands. Our expertise has helped place them in key locations to increase footfall and revenue.

Alex is Senior Partner of Culverwell and founded the business in 1989.

Alex has worked with a large number of retailers, property companies, institutions and REITs, notably recently with Landsec and TH Real Estate in Buchanan Galleries and in Glasgow and Edinburgh along with numerous acquisitions and different cases for Next.

More about Alex


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