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KGL co-owner denies rumours circulating that his 'St Andrews Grand' building has been repossessed by the bank
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Fury at state of iconic building

The Courier, 4 July 2008

Anger is mounting in St Andrews over the “shocking” condition of one of the most famous buildings in the town - the former Hamilton Hall student residence, located behind the 18th green of the Old Course, which featured in the film, Chariots of Fire.

The landmark Victorian multi-storey property was bought from St Andrews University by an American real estate firm in 2004 for a reputed £22 million.

However, the distinctive red sandstone building has been lying empty ever since and is now showing clear signs of deterioration.

As it features in every televised golf championship at St Andrews its rundown condition has now attracted furious criticism.

Several windows in the six-storey property have been smashed and others are boarded up, while rubbish and other debris litter the rear. There are also several broken vents and some windows covered with polythene.

Townspeople, councillors and Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Ted Brocklebank are among those who are up in arms. Mr Brocklebank has now raised the issue with the owners, Rhode Island-based Wasserman Real Estate Capital LLC.

Conservative MSP Mr Brocklebank said yesterday, “It is extremely concerning to see the current state of Hamilton Hall.

“Hamilton Hall is part of the geography that sells the Old Course around the world.

“With many thousands of international visitors expected to visit St Andrews as part of the year of Homecoming in 2009 it is inconceivable that such an important building should remain in its current apparently abandoned state. The situation only becomes more unacceptable with the Open Championship returning to St Andrews in 2010.

“I have written to the owners requesting an update on the plans for Hamilton Hall and pointing out the potential damage being done to the town’s reputation by this company’s failure either to proceed with the original development or to keep the public informed of the current situation.

“Apart from anything else this is a B-listed building in a conservation area, and at the very least that brings responsibilities in terms of keeping it in sound condition.”

Chief executive of the R&A, Peter Dawson, added, “We look upon the lack of progress with its development with great concern and hope that a speedy resolution of the issues delaying the project can be found.”

A spokesman for the adjoining Best Western Scores Hotel said he was “sadly disappointed and deeply concerned” at the state and appearance of the building.

“This is what the rest of the world will see at the 2010 Open Championship when the cameras are on the 18th green and Hamilton Hall will be in the background. It is so sad that such an important building in St Andrews is being left to deteriorate and no one can appear to be able to do anything about it.”

He is calling for the owners to carry out maintenance and remedial work to make the overall appearance as it should be and repair broken windows and clean up the rubbish at the very least.

Fife councillor Bill Sangster said, “Townspeople want to know what is going on and the developer should be forced to give some answers. It would appear that the interior of the property has been gutted and the debris heaped inside.”

Fife Provost Frances Melville described the situation as “extremely worrying.”

Catherine Rowe of St Andrews community council, added, “This is a landmark building and people are now horrified at its condition and angry at the owners to allow it to fall into disrepair.

“It is a prominent part of the town’s history. What is this saying to tourists and visitors from all over the world coming to St Andrews?”

Former Fife councillor, Jane Ann Liston said, “Unfortunately the sort of venture which the developer had in mind, relying heavily upon overseas investors, is very susceptible to the volatility of the transatlantic market, which at this time does not seem inclined to venture across the ocean.”

Owner David Wasserman, whose company also has a controlling interest in Kingsbarns golf links, a venue for the annual Dunhill Championship, said, “We are continuing to assess our options and the building will move forward.”

However, he has denied rumours circulating that the property has been repossessed by the bank.

Mr Wasserman said, “That is not the case. We still own it and continue to consider the development options.”

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