Images show revamp plan for Tontine buildings in city centre

New images of a major revamp set to transform a historic Merchant City building to create a restaurant, gallery and rooftop pavilion have been released.
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Glasgow City Council has received an application to refurbish the Tontine buildings at High Street, Trongate, Tontine Lane and Bell Street.

Tontine Properties Ltd, part of property rental firm Stelmain, wants to make the B-listed landmark building “a contemporary, innovative place of work”, and  reactivate “this important edge of the Merchant City”.

The proposals include new entrances and shopfronts, restaurant space, a gallery, improved offices with breakout areas and meeting rooms and a rooftop pavilion. There could also be a large gym, changing facilities and a cycle store with a bike repair station. Plans submitted by the applicant state the scheme would “restore and celebrate the building’s best historic features, while introducing sensitive alterations and new elements that enhance the old”.

The aim is to “rejuvenate the underutilised and largely vacant site through a combination of responsible demolition, strip-out, retrofit, extension, and fitting out — unifying the Tontine Building as an interconnected ensemble rather than a series of fragmented buildings”. If the scheme goes ahead, the developers hope to “activate and enhance” the lanes and courtyards within the building, improving the public realm.

The planning documents add there are “extensive” ground floor and basement areas which can be accessed from Tontine Lane, which offer “significant flexibility to provide a mix of accommodation including licensed/restaurant, leisure, office or retail”. They state: “Whilst fundamentally the proposed development will retain the office building and extant use, various activities and functions will be incorporated into the scheme. It will be unlocked as a new destination to work, collaboration, and entertainment.”

Plans also state the Tontine Building has been “adapted to suit various purposes” over the years, including as “the social hub for the Glasgow Tontine Society (c.1781) — a type of financial investment scheme popular with Glasgow’s merchants to facilitate meetings, business, and socialising”.

The modern building — “an ensemble of B listed blocks” — dates from 1905 to 1930, and “continues to be a hub of commercial activity”, housing a mix of shops, offices, and other businesses.