Opera House Tuning Up For New Life

Opera House Tuning Up For New Life

Kilmarnock’s former Opera House is preparing to burst into life again with a multimillion pound development restoring its facade and turning the long derelict building into office accommodation twenty years after a fire ravaged the site.

Councillor Jim Buchanan, Spokesperson for Delivering Community Regeneration, East Ayrshire Council and Marie Macklin Chairwoman of the developers, The Klin Group toured the building to check on progress as a new state of the art office building emerges behind the historic Victorian sandstone frontage which was all that had remained of the original Opera House.

Councillor Buchanan said: “This project encapsulates everything we are doing with regeneration in East Ayrshire. By reinstating this building Klin Group are providing local jobs and training. Once it is complete we’ll be moving East Ayrshire Council staff into the building, consolidating our workforce and improving working conditions and communications while bringing an economic benefit to local traders and food retailers as a result of the increased footfall and life in the town centre.

“We’re also restoring an elegant Victorian building, giving it a twenty first century purpose, securing the future of John Finnie Street’s famous skyline for generations to come.

“This is just one of many projects we are supporting with our Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes (CARS) throughout East Ayrshire – these aim to preserve historic buildings using sympathetic materials and skills. Using local labour and offering training in historic skills mean we are upskilling the local trades while providing buildings fit for purpose allowing local businesses to flourish. “

“As a flagship project it is particularly exciting to see this site being turned from a sad eyesore into a building to be proud of. Although it consisted of a facade with a vacant lot behind it, it still took over ten years of research for the Klin Group working in conjunction with our legal department to trace all the owners who had had an interest in the building before it burnt down. Only once complex negotiations were settled could this redevelopment happen and we’re very happy that a Marie Macklin and The Klin Group have done so well to bring this project to fruition.”

Marie Macklin said: “We launched this project, Encore Phase 2, on 4th July 2011 and over the last 6 months I have been delighted with the community spirit and positive feedback received from the young and young at heart, with regard to the progress being made on the site.

“It has been over 20 years since a building stood at this location and I am extremely proud to be instrumental in providing a future legacy for Kilmarnock.

“If you walk past the site at present you will see there is now a structure and roof, requiring 136 construction operatives to date which is great news for the local economy. Klin Group have also appointed the pupils at St Joseph’s Academy Enterprise Team to design and produce some fantastic window decals based upon the history of the former Opera House.

“Kilmarnock Academy Arts department have also been commissioned to produce a painting for the buildings reception area. These commissions will result in entrepreneurial funds for the respective schools.

“These young people are the future of Kilmarnock and have the same aspirations for our town as the Klin Group”

The project has been supported by Kilmarnock CARS and the Townscape Heritage Initiative which is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and East Ayrshire Council. This includes grant funding of nearly £630,000 which has been awarded for the restoration of the facade. This includes repairing stonework, installing new timber windows, doors leadwork and rainwater goods. Traditional, high quality lead and slate will be used on the roof.

The sandstone used to repair the stonework has been locally sourced from Locharbriggs Quarry, Dumfries and Galloway. It is one of the oldest and largest sandstone quarries in Scotland and one of very few remaining active quarries in the country.

The Opera House building is currently on target to be completed in the autumn of 2012.