THE DEVELOPER behind the collapsed £300 million Caltongate project in Edinburgh has indicated for the first time that it will not attempt to revive the project.
Manish Chande, co-owner of Mountgrange Capital, which was forced into administration by its banker Lloyds in March, told the Sunday Herald he was "close to divorce" from the project, expressing impatience with the planning delays and heritage objections that have dogged the four-year project.
Chande's decision to draw a line under Mountgrange's involvement in Caltongate comes as administrator Deloitte said it had held talks with other potential developers and that a deal could be "months if not weeks" away. This runs contrary to reports that Lloyds was leaning on the administrator to mothball the site until the commercial property market picked up in value.
Chande said of the development, which was to include a five-star hotel, more than 200 homes, offices, cafes, bars and a public square: "We have had our separation, and we are getting close to our divorce.
"We may not be the best buyer. After four years of work, we saw the issues that arose and we are perhaps slightly affected by it."
Chande's comments contradict speculation at the time of the Mountgrange Capital administration announcement that he and business partner Martin Myers would push to buy back the development from Deloitte at the earliest opportunity.
Chande responded that it was unlikely he and Myers would agree with the administrator's valuation of the site. Mountgrange Capital paid £20m for Caltongate in 2004, but it is not thought to be worth anything like that now.
John Reid, Deloitte's administrator for Caltongate, said he had not heard from Chande or Myers but added: "We have been talking to a number of other potential developers and expect to conclude within months if not weeks. It is our intention to move forward as quickly as we can."
Clearly The Evening News are not keeping up with divorce proceedings, with their front page headlines "Caltongate set to be revived by failed firm's ex-bosses"