St James Quarter, a 1.7m sq ft lifestyle district in the heart of Edinburgh, has been officially opened by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal. She was joined by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Councillor Robert Aldridge, where she unveiled the foundation stone for what is one of the most significant city centre transformations currently underway in the UK.
Before the opening ceremony, HRH The Princess Royal was taken on a tour of the £1bn project, which includes 850,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space and an Everyman Cinema. It will also soon feature W Hotel Edinburgh, a 75-bed Roomzzz aparthotel and 152 residential apartments called New Eidyn. St James Quarter, which is being delivered by Nuveen Real Estate, has been designed to integrate seamlessly with Edinburgh’s transport network, cultural calendar and historic fabric.
HRH The Princess Royal, who was introduced to businesses along the shopping galleria, ascended to the site’s highest point at what will be the UK’s second ever W Hotel, to take in the newest panorama of Edinburgh before sampling Scottish fayre at Bonnie & Wild – a food hall dedicated to promoting Scotland’s independent food and drink producers.
She also met representatives from retail and hospitality academy FUSE Edinburgh, which in partnership with St James Quarter is helping boost local employment through training and job opportunities on site and throughout the rest of the city.
HRH The Princess Royal also visited New Eidyn, a new 152-apartment residential development by Native Land. HRH The Princess Royal also planted a tree as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Green Canopy initiative in New Eidyn’s private residents’ ‘Gardens in the Sky’, adding to over a million trees that have, and will continue to be planted in Her Majesty’s name.
Her tour was rounded off by the official opening ceremony, where HRH The Princess Royal was piped into Register Square and unveiled the foundation stone. She also gave a short speech in front of guests and members of the public and was gifted a scarf custom-made out of St James Quarter tartan. The tartan, designed by Edinburgh College of Art graduate Rosie Baird is unique to SJQ and is legally registered.
BDP has been working on the design of St James Quarter’s retail and leisure development since 2014. It has created a world-leading retail circuit that engages with the three natural levels of the site, and improves the quality and quantity of Edinburgh’s shopping options. It is a vibrant and sustainable new city quarter that has become part of the city, extending the urban qualities of the New Town. The central galleria unites all the buildings in the quarter with a striking, transparent, naturally-ventilated roof, delivering a new landmark for Edinburgh and a comfortable, bright place to be.
Oliver Wilson, Architect Director at BDP, said: “I have felt an immense sense of pride through the development of St James Quarter and it has been such a privilege to help design such an inspiring and beautiful mixed use development but meeting the HRH The Princess Royal on the official opening today was a real honour for the whole team. It was gratifying to see her appreciate all the elements of a place that is now having a real impact on the city of Edinburgh and for it rightfully be marked as the latest piece of heritage in this royal city.”
Martin Perry, Director of Development, Real Estate, Europe at Nuveen Real Estate, said: “We are immensely grateful and honoured to have hosted Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. St James Quarter is at the heart of Edinburgh’s success story and, as the city bounces back, we see time and time again why we chose to invest here. A city with transformation and growth at its core, we are delighted to be able to provide such a revolutionary offering.”
Lord Provost and Lord Lieutenant of Edinburgh, Councillor Robert Aldridge commented: “It has been a great honour to receive Her Royal Highness in Edinburgh today, and to accompany Her on a tour of this transformative project for the city. The opening of St James Quarter is the fruition of over a decade’s work to deliver a retail and lifestyle district unique to Edinburgh, which celebrates its spirit, history and culture.”