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Dundee Casino Project Beats Recession

James Keillor

The Dundee businessman behind the new £11 million casino, retail and apartment complex in the city says the current financial climate is the “most challenging” he has ever faced in his career (writes David Clegg).
 
Bruce Linton, of James Keiller Estates, says the struggle to get funding for the project had caused him to take risks and use equity from within his own group to complete the work during the height of the recession.

He said the collapse of the banking industry in particular had wreaked havoc with trying to finance such an ambitious undertaking.

Mr Linton also revealed that both Tesco and Starbucks are being lined up for franchises in the retail block, although both firms were remaining tight-lipped on such proposals when contacted by the Tele.

“It has definitely been one of the most challenging projects we have ever done,” he said.

“As everyone is finding, development finance is very difficult to get at the moment.”

“Without getting into the specifics it has certainly been very difficult from our point of view and has taken a lot more of our own equity within the group to actually finish it,” he said.

But the decision to persevere with the project appears to have paid off with the £5.5 million casino due to open next month with the creation of 100 jobs.

A wine bar, office accommodation and 25 serviced apartments will also be part of the complex.

The development, which occupies a high-profile corner of West Marketgait near West Port, was first mooted in 2005 — long before the current economic problems.

“We started the project before all the trouble and would obviously have been expecting to get more bank support,” said Mr Linton.

“The banks say it has been the worst time they have had since the 1930s.

“However, I must say that our bank, HBOS, has been very supportive of us throughout despite the difficulties.”

Looking forward to the opening, Mr Linton spoke of the unique serviced apartment aspect which, he said, would be a first for the city.

“The view of the Tay is absolutely stunning and the apartments will be aimed at those visiting the city for work.

They could be staying from anything from a few days to a couple of months and not wanting to stay in a hotel.

“They are the first of their kind in Dundee.”

The development extends back from West Marketgait and encompasses a former garage and building yard.

It is bounded by Hawkhill to the south and Brown Street to the west. The casino, which was given a 24-hour licence by Dundee’s licensing board late last month, covers 30,000 square feet.

It will include 10 gaming tables (five roulette, three blackjack and two/three card poker), electronic roulette terminals and dedicated gaming machines.

22nd September 2009