RECENT visitors to the city centre may have noticed something truly transformational taking shape on the Trongate.

The derelict site, which older Glasgow Times readers will remember as the Goldbergs and Weisfeld department stores, is being brought back to life as a major new development.

In the past week the scaffolding on the £300million Candleriggs Square scheme has been removed, revealing a striking new addition to the heart of Glasgow.

Bringing together a modern design with restored historic buildings, the completed development will include around 350 new apartments and a stylish hotel incorporating student accommodation and workspaces, alongside new retail and leisure outlets.

With hundreds of new residents soon to set up home in a part of town that’s long needed a new lease of life, the potential positive impact is immense. Candleriggs Square also points to a new chapter for the entirety of our city centre.

The transition underway is becoming increasingly visible and, in the months ahead, Glaswegians will see more developments underway.

The new city centre that’s emerging now won’t be just the same as what was there before, something businesses and residents alike are recognising needs to happen.

We can’t reverse the long decline of traditional retail and rise of online shopping. And the impact of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis on footfall and social habits will be felt for some time yet.

But what we can do is ensure that our city centre remains both our most important economic asset and the heart of Glasgow life: a busy, vibrant place to visit, shop, socialise, work and – for more and more people – live. Take for example banking giant JP Morgan’s new tech centre, just half a mile directly west from Candleriggs Square.

Formally opened last week, this 14-storey, state-of-the-art base for more than 2500 staff is a massive vote of confidence in Glasgow, both in the city centre as a location for multi-million pound investment and in our economy and workforce.

I had the pleasure of attending the opening and can say that this is truly a world-class facility helping to revitalise that section of Argyle Street.

Having endured three huge fires in the past decade, perhaps nowhere in the city centre has experienced change like Sauchiehall Street.

But confidence is returning to this famous old thoroughfare.

Like many, I was delighted to see a new application recently submitted for the former Marks and Spencer site, with fresh plans for a mixed-use development including student and affordable accommodation and which retain the building’s characteristic 1930s features.

And just like Candleriggs Square, hundreds of new residents on Sauchiehall Street can have a transformational impact on its fortunes.

We await the outcome not only of this application but also several others in the surrounding area. 

And it was genuinely exciting to see the long-awaited revamp of George Square take a step forward last week.

The callout for statue experts to advise on their removal, conservation and return is the first non-design work to be commissioned and creates genuine momentum towards giving Glaswegians the quality civic space they’ve long asked for.

Our city centre has been the focus of much attention precisely because it means so much to so many.

The transition it is now experiencing is the most significant in 50 years.

So, next time you’re in the town, look up at the cranes and hoardings and you’ll see the ongoing construction of a modern, diverse, international Glasgow readying itself for the next century.

AS we put in place the building blocks for the city centre’s future, we can’t, of course, take our eyes off the challenges of the present.

I’m delighted that colleagues in Neighbourhoods, Regeneration and Sustainability have recently recruited more than 50 additional new staff to the cleansing teams, with all posts expected to be in place by the end of the month.

Within the city centre teams, we have 40 street cleansing operatives with others working throughout the week, including on deep cleans.

On any given week, the cleansing teams can be collecting more than 11 tonnes of litter in the city centre alone – an indication of the huge scale of the task the city faces to tackle litter.

Their efforts to maintain our streets are much appreciated – but we also need all Glaswegians and visitors to the city to help them out by disposing of our litter responsibly or taking it home with us.