£30m plan to transform former Capitol Theatre into offices unveiled

Capitol Theatre plans
Plans: The venue on Union Street could be transformed.Knight Property Group

A £30m plan to transform Aberdeen’s former Capitol Theatre has been unveiled.

The Knight Property Group has announced plans to turn the historic landmark building on Union Street into offices.

A listed building, the theatre dates back to 1933 and could be restored and refurbished over a 14 month period, to “create prime, city centre office space” covering approximately 70,000 square feet.

The Capitol was among the first British cinemas in the Moderne style and was considered to be Aberdeen’s most prestigious and luxurious venue. The innovative design was heavily influenced by contemporary European cinemas and theatres, such as the Savoy in London.

The theatre hosted annual pantomime seasons, regular live shows and concerts. More recently, the building was a bar and a nightclub.

Groups including The Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden and Shakin Stevens have performed at the venue.

As part of the redevelopment plans, Knight Property Group wants to install an escalator to link the art deco front of house with a new glass tower.

The exterior of the building will also be restored.

James Barrack, director of Knight Property Group said: “This is a significant development for us and it will see one of Aberdeen’s most historic and iconic buildings restored to its former glory. This will assist in the much needed regeneration of Union Street and in turn, bring further benefits for local retailers and suppliers in the surrounding areas.

“City centre office space continues to be in high demand so we expect this development to be a popular location for companies based and working within Aberdeen. The flexibility of the space means that it can be tailored to accommodate individual business requirements, from 5000sqft up to 70,000sqft.

“The Capitol is an iconic building and unfortunately for the last few years it has been empty and in decline. We are working closely with Aberdeen City Council and Historic Scotland to retain some of the internal features and characteristics of its art deco roots.”

Susan Bree, chief executive of business organisation Aberdeen Inspired, believes a vibrant Union Street is crucial to the future of the city centre.

She said: “We are keen to see the regeneration of vacant property units and sites within the Business Improvement District and Union Street is at the heart of that. The Capitol is an iconic building and part of the heritage of Aberdeen and we welcome Knight Property Group’s plans for its redevelopment.

“City centres are evolving and a redevelopment of this nature and significance is central to that process and we are keen to work with developers to assist with and identify further opportunities. There is a shortage of office space within the city centre and catering for that is important, but the benefits of creating additional office accommodation stretch far beyond that.

“One of Aberdeen Inspired’s key aims is to generate footfall within the district by making it an attractive destination for leisure, shopping and work – the innovative use of the space available is a vital part of that and this exciting development will most certainly breathe much needed life, activity and vibrancy into Union Street.”

Mr Barrack added: “This project will be developed and funded on a speculative basis. We will be commencing works on site immediately, once we have received consent, and it is anticipated that the Capitol will be completed by the end of 2014.”

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