The owner of one of Glasgow’s architectural gems says he wants to put years of stalled deals and disputes behind him and thrash out a future for the rundown masterpiece with Glasgow City Council.

Derek Souter’s Egyptian Halls in Union Street – regarded by many as Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s finest work — needs extensive repairs, totalling at least £10 million, but potentially rising to £30m.

These photos, shot when Mr Souter took our sister paper the Evening Times on a tour of the building, show how the category A-listed property has fallen into disrepair after lying empty for decades.

The Dundee developer says the almost 150-year-old property’s upper floor is an ideal location for a new 100-plus bedroom three or four star hotel, with the ground floor suitable for bars and restaurants.

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He claims it would kick-start the regeneration of Union Street, bringing around 200 jobs to the city.

Glasgow’s local authority, which recently threatened enforcement action if urgent repairs were not carried out, said discussions with Mr Souter are ongoing.

Seven options for refurbishing or redeveloping the building have been drawn up on behalf of the developer, ranging in cost from £10m to a more ambitious
£30m scheme.

These vary from restoring the derelict property to a new building with the original facade retained and would be dependent on funding and planning permission.

Mr Souter said: “I don’t think there’s anything to be derived by revisiting the problems. We are in agreement with the council that we need to move forward. The past should not influence how we get to a solution. There is a phenomenal potential to be realised.

“We just need to work together, it needs a resetting of the hourglass. It has to be done to save the building. You need to get a balance of commercial funding and grant funding.”

Scaffolding surrounds the famous building’s facade, hiding Thomson’s impressive design from view.

On the lower floors, remnants of a Chinese restaurant can be seen on the walls and windows while, rising to the higher levels, light floods in through the gaps in the stone columns.

Standing on the roof gives a stunning view of The Lighthouse, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

A previous scheme had suggested creating a Mackintosh-Thomson Mews, removing the NCP car park which separates the two famous buildings. This is still included in one of the options, although Mr Souter admits it is unlikely at the moment.

A team is currently carrying out a structural survey on the building, which Mr Souter says will inform which option is most appropriate.

He said the Scottish Government has also got to consider whether it can support any development.

“We’ve got to establish the structural integrity of the building and that will inform all proposals going forward,” the developer added.

“If we could remove the scaffolding we would. The rents on the ground floor would treble, and you wouldn’t have to pay any scaffolding costs.”

READ MORE: Actor David Hayman on Glasgow's other architect, Alexander Greek Thomson

The Egyptian Hall’s upper floors and ground floor are owned by separate companies – Union Street Developments and Union Street Properties. Both are run by Mr Souter alongside his brothers Duncan and Kelvin Kerr.

If a hotel cannot be developed, Mr Souter believes the site could be suitable for offices, accommodation, commercial or social use. 

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said its planning team works with developers to deliver multiple large and complex projects across Glasgow. 

The spokesman added: “Mr Souter has been discussing the future of Egyptian Halls with the council’s planning team for over a decade, during which time several scheme options have been considered but none have been implemented.

“Discussions with Mr Souter and his representatives remain ongoing.

“Council officers recently met with the new engineers appointed by the owner. 

“They have advised that they intend to carry out a survey of their own and further discussions will take place at the correct juncture.

“We recently wrote to the owners of the building outlining our concerns that no meaningful maintenance of the building had taken place.

“Currently, there is no agreed project and no identified developer
that the council has been made aware of.

“In 2010/11, the council and Historic Scotland (£1million and £1.5m respectively) made substantial funds available to the developer for this project, providing certain conditions were met within a timescale.  

“These conditions were not met, and so the funding could not be released.”