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Landmark Dundee waterfront building Custom House goes on sale

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One of Dundee’s most prominent and historic buildings could finally be restored after being put on the market.

Custom House on Dock Street is being sold via Savills, with offers being invited from interested parties.

The Grade A listed Georgian mansion house dates from the 1840s and was originally the base of Dundee Port Authority.

It was previously used as a TV studio and an office building but has lain empty for the past 13 years and was added to Scotland’s Buildings at Risk register in 2009.

Custom House was previously owned by Apex Hotels but was sold in January 2020 to Dundee-based property development firm Alicydon.

The company employed JM Architects in Edinburgh to draw up plans to convert the building into luxury apartments and two new build blocks with private parking and landscaped communal grounds.

Dundee City Council approved the plans in October last year. They will see the main building converted into 20 luxury flats and 29 flats across the two new-build structures.

The plans would see a single storey 1930s extension demolished, however its frontage will be retained as part of the new builds.

The larger new block will contain 22 units over five storeys including two luxury penthouse flats forming a rooftop pavilion. A smaller block will contain seven flats over five storeys. All flats will come with a private parking space.

In addition to the main entrance and vestibule area, some of the original walls will be kept along with the internal staircase, which Historic Environment Scotland has said is the building’s most important feature.

In the grounds, remnants of the granite Calcutta Lane and its railway tracks will be retained and made into a design feature.

Dundee City Council, Dundee Civic Trust, Dundee City Centre and Harbour Community Council, and Historic Environment Scotland were consulted for their input into the historic building’s planned restoration.

Having secured planning permission Alicydon have now put Custom House up for sale.

The building comes with 0.94 acres of grounds and a crescent shaped section of land owned by Dundee City Council is available for purchase by separate negotiation, which when added would create a rectangular plot.

Custom House was designed by architects John Taylor and James Leslie and built over the course of 1842-43.

The building was designed in the neo-classical style and includes Greek Revival detailing.

In the 1880s a three storey rectangular wing was formed from the south east corner of the original building while in the 1930s a single story extension to this wing was added.

The property retains a wealth of historic internal features including fireplaces, oak panelling, staircases and an ornate entrance vestibule hall.

It occupies a prime site next to City Quay, close to the historic HMS Unicorn, and a short distance from the V&A, Slessor Gardens and the Caird Hall. Restoring the historic building is a key part of Dundee’s £1 billion waterfront regeneration plan.

Various schemes have been put forward for Custom House since it was abandoned in 2008.

In 2012 planning permission and listed building consent were sought to alter and extend the building to create a boutique hotel, with plans being conditionally approved in February 2013.

Custom House was bought by Apex Hotels in 2014 and planned to convert the building into a five star hotel which would complement its existing accommodation next door.

However, the hotel firm was unhappy when Foxlake was given permission to open a water sports centre in the neighbouring marina and shortly afterwards announced its intention to put Custom House on sale.

In their design statement the developers said: “Our approach to the design of this project is based on the architectural and historical context in which the building was designed, the history of the city of Dundee, its industry, its cultural development, its waterfront and harbourside, and the architectural legacy this historical era has left.

“Our design approach is not nostalgic or regressive, it is firmly rooted in our belief that we can learn from our past, if we understand it.”

Richard Cottingham of Savills said: “Custom House provides a rare opportunity to acquire a landmark building within Dundee’s Waterfront.

Whilst of historical significance, it is also a key element of the continuing regeneration of the city centre given its prominent position close to the prestigious V&A Dundee.

Its central location, waterside views and approved planning permission all combine to create an attractive residential development opportunity.”

Custom House is on sale with Savills. Offers are invited

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