Saturday, 6 September 2008
Kilmarnock town centre regeneration defies UK economic downturn
By: Alan Woodison
KILMARNOCK is defying the UK economic crisis with the announcement yesterday that a spectacular £65million hotel and shops development is planned for the town.
The proposed Encore project, a five-storey commercial complex in the heart of the Ayrshire town, flies in the face of the nationwide property slump.
[Pictured: The Encore Emporium. An artist’s impression of the boutique-styled shopping Emporium over 5 floors. The new roof material is copper.]
The good news is even better for local residents in that the scheme will involve a complete revamp of a collection of eyesore buildings.
[Pictured: The Encore Boutique Hotel. An artist’s impression of the boutique hotel, looking down Dunlop Street to the thatched roofed Whisky Hub, which will include the first whisky ice bar in Scotland.]
These Victorian properties on the main route to the dated railway station have long been derelict, with one ancient frontage having been propped up by scaffolding for 20 years.
The triangular 40,000 sq ft Encore development will take the form of a 26-room boutique hotel and a magnificent shopping emporium consisting of specialist retailers and stylish cafés and restaurants.
Behind the venture is the Klin Group, a Kilmarnock-based family firm which has played a key role in the town’s regeneration since 1988.
Klin is a privately-owned property, investment and development company. Established by retired builder John Dick, it was responsible for introducing the Morrisons supermarket brand to Scotland, convincing the company to open its first store north of the border in Kilmarnock.
Klin have also converted the disused offices of a former Kilmarnock locomotive factory into plush apartments and a heritage centre complete with full-size loco engine.
The heritage centre was officially opened in January this year by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, pictured above (centre) flanked by East Council leader Douglas Reid (left) and Klin Group managing director Marie Macklin (right).
Marie Macklin (42) is Klin Group founder John Dick’s daughter, and took over the company in 2003.
Marie is desperately passionate about reshaping the future of her home town, although she also wants to extend the Encore vision to other ailing town centres as well.
She said: “The Encore project is a clear signal that the decline in the town of Kilmarnock is being reversed.
“This is not about some nice, new shiny development. It’s about a former industrial town reinventing itself into a bespoke quality-driven tourist destination.”
The Ayrshire developers believe their proposals will change the pattern of retailing across the country. Plans for the first of three phases at John Finnie Street were submitted to East Ayrshire Council last Thursday.
The details would have been well received because councillors and council officials were about to discuss regeneration ideas with enterprise minister Jim Mather.
A spokeswoman for East Ayrshire Council was unable to say how long the planning process will take. She did however confirm that they will “work to ensure the applications are progressed as quickly as possible.”
West Langlands Street,
Telephone: 01563 530454 or 07714300146
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