PROPOSALS to transform of Glasgow's most famous buildings have finally been revealed

Ambitious plans have been unveiled to transform one of Glasgow's most celebrated buildings into a 114-bedroom hotel in Union Street.

The proposals will convert the upper three floors of the Grade A listed Egyptian Halls, built by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson, into a 3-star hotel.

A two-storey rooftop extension will be created for the hotel giving spectacular views across the city. The ground floor and basement of the building will house a combination of bars, restaurants and retail units, across four units.

Significant mezzanine space will be created on the lower floors revealing the original Thomson ceilings and cornicing, which have been hidden for 60 years.

Owners, USP Ltd and USI Ltd, say the project has the potential to create up to 200 jobs, around 30 apprenticeships and deliver up to £350,000 in business rates annually for the public purse.

Accor Hotels has been named as the hotel franchise and is expected to opt for the mid-range IBIS or Mercure brand, managed by hotel operators Longrose Buccleuch.

The plans are being billed as the "last throw of the dice" for the building, which has been empty for 32 years and was earmaked for demolition in 2011 because of funding shortages for a previous restoration plan. Thousands backed a campaign and petition to save the halls from the axe.

Owners say the proposals will result in almost the "complete preservation" of the halls. A planning application was lodged yesterday with Glagow City Council, for the hotel and listed building consent.

The building is widely recognised as 'Greek' Thomson's finest commercial building. However funding for the project could, once more, prove a stumbling block.

Funding is secure for the hotel however there is a deficit of around £11.4m to refurbish the ground floor, which the owners say will rely on "substantial public subsidy".

Glasgow City Council previously agreed a £1m grant but say there is "no funding" available at present, although it is supportive of the hotel plan. Historic Scotland has previously confirmed a grant of £1.65m.

However the owners, who have invested £6.2m since 1998, are confident grant funding can be secured if planning permission is approved and say the deficit can be reduced to £4.5m through public and private sector collaboration and business rates revenue.

Derek Souter, of USP Ltd, said: "I'm delighted that an application for the 100% preservation of the Egyptian Halls has now been lodged with Glasgow City Council.

"The combined short, medium and long-term regeneration benefits are acknowledged by all, as the additional £350,000 business rates per year the project generates.

"The Scottish Government has approved the principle of innovative Tax Increment Financing funding for the Buchanan quarter. This is conditional upon Glasgow City Council ensuring that this investment does not occur at the expense of other city centre areas."

Retail letting experts involved in the project say interest in the ground floor units is "building strongly" given the significant commuter, tourist and public footfall in the area, and the hotel plan. It is hoped the restoration project will act as a catalyst for the "long overdue" regeneration of Union Street, which property analysts say is having a negative impact on the city centre as a whole.

Drew Oswald, senior partner at Knight Frank Scotland, said: "We have been valuing property in Union Street for well over 20 years and the character of the street has changed dramatically over that period.

"Over the past decade many retailers have relocated away from once major thoroughfares like Union Street, this has an ultimate cost to be borne."

Richard Heggie, planning consultant of TPS Planning, said: "This is without doubt the strongest case that can be made to both preserve this architectural masterpiece and also generate the sustainable economic growth which is an overarching Scottish Government objective."

A council spokesman said: "Planning applications have been submitted for conversion into a hotel with an accompanying application for listed building consent."