John Lewis building could become continental market

The former Norco House and John Lewis building

PART of Aberdeen’s empty John Lewis building could soon be revived as a continental-style produce market.

Those behind the ambitious market plans have revealed their goal to the Press & Journal, just hours after the new owner of the huge George Street structure was confirmed.

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The chamber’s Morning Bulletin exclusively revealed yesterday that the millionaire property developer who purchased Aberdeen’s Bon Accord Centre had snapped up the neighbouring John Lewis site for just £270,000.

The iconic Norco House building has been sold to a company owned by Zakir Issa, a sibling of the billionaire brothers who own Asda.

Transaction documents seen by the Morning Bulletin confirm the property has changed hands for £270,000, which is a fraction of the £14.3million paid for the building just 12 years ago.

The deal follows Mr Issa’s cut-price purchase of the Bon Accord Centre – once value at over £200million – which he is understood to have acquired for under £10million.

Mr Issa’s company, EP Properties, has a commercial property portfolio across the UK.

Aberdeen Multicultural Centre (AMC) and Aberdeen Climate Action (ACA) are now pressing on with their proposals for a market in the old John Lewis building, hoping to help the environment by putting North-east food and drink in the shop window.

The bones of an agreement are already in place with the new owner, the P&J understands.

The market would take up only the ground floor of the former department store.

Ahashan Habib, manager of AMC, said: “We can now confirm that John Lewis is our target.

“We are hopeful, but there is no certainty in anything until a contract is signed.

“Discussions to finalise the finer details continue, but we have a broad agreement in place.”

ACA and AMC teamed up in the hope of reducing North-east food mileage and celebrating the array of multi-ethnic foods made in this corner of the country.

They want to make room for possibly more than 100 North-east producers.

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