The Merchant City is bustling, busy and vibrant; home to many great restaurants, bars and nightclubs as well as a large number of the cities own glitterati who call the place home.
The Merchant City is ideal for the young urban professional or the professional couple who do not care much for green open spaces but prefer the cafe culture lifestyle and being at home in the heart of one of Britain’s greatest cities.
A current over supply of accommodation particularly on the fringes of the Merchant City also means that the area has become increasingly affordable with some fantastic bargains available in even the more recent and prestigious developments.
The Merchant City lies slightly to the east of the main commercial heart of the city.
People who rent flats in the Merchant City are usually attracted to its City Centre location combined with its trendy Manhattan style feel.
The Merchant City has an appeal similar to a scaled down version of the Village or SOHO in Manhattan; the tall buildings are generally 4 to 6 stories in height; there is bustle, vibrancy to life mixed in with a little edginess and grit.
Whilst there are the vast open spaces of Glasgow Green a few hundred yards away it is not the proximity to the Park which attracts the young and trendy crowd to the area but its urban buzz.
The cafes spill out onto the streets and into the many urban spaces which create the unique architectural language of the area.
The quality and standard of the urban architecture in the area is unsurpassed with many dozen listed buildings of international renown.
This is being added to even today and in the areas recent history with the high standard of architecture being continued in the modern vernacular of steel and glass.
The Merchant City is particularly popular with young urban professionals who enjoy the convenience of walking to work and having their night life directly on their doorstep.
Like many parts of Glasgow’s city centre the area was largely uninhabited until the 1980’s. Accommodation is generally a mix of loft conversions, bespoke new build apartments dating from the mid 1980’s with a small number of traditional tenement flats thrown in.
Shopping is wide and varied; the Italian Centre and Princes Square are perhaps the main draws for the fashion conscious young professional.
There are a varied and large number of small boutique style shops and galleries which occupy the area.
Argyle Street provides mainstream retail appeal with a wide range of High Street names such as Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, HMV, Virgin, Next etc.
The Merchant City is also home to many of Glasgow’s best restaurants and nightclubs many of which remain open into the small hours of the morning.
If transportation out of the city is necessary there are great links either by rail from the adjacent Queen Street Station or Central Station by bus from Buchanan Street or by road from the Townhead M8 junction at the top of High Street.
The area is also ideal for students and lecturers who attend either Caledonian or Strathclyde University as both are within a 5 minute walk from the area.
Similarly Glasgow Royal Infirmary is a mere 10 minutes walk away to the north.
Schools are the main drawback of the area although this is not a consideration for the majority of the Merchant City’s occupants.
The accommodation on offer is predominately one and two bedroom flats many of which are above retail accommodation.
There are several well known conversions in the Merchant City Area most notably the Glasgow Herald Building on Albion Street, The GPO Building (Post Office Building) on South Frederick Street and the more recent redevelopment of the Sheriff Court Building on Ingram Street by Persimmon Homes.
There are also earlier developments which have proved to be very popular such as the Ingram Square development from 1982 from Candleriggs to Brunswick Street.
As well as this there are also several bespoke developments such as the Todd Building and the Italian Centre on Ingram Street.
Some tenement properties are located on Bell Street which are typical of later Glasgow Victorian architecture.
Letting Hints and Tips
The Todd Building, Ingram Street
The Italian Centre, Ingram Street
Sheriff Court Building, Ingram Street
Ingram Square Development
Former Shoe Warehouse, Corner Brunswick Street and Wilson Street
The Merchant City is a fantastic place to rent a flat as it offers a stunning location at a great price. A large amount of recent refurbishments and new builds have suppressed prices below their market value and this offers fantastic value for prospective tenants.
Points to watch out for are as follows:
Good wheelchair access / provision: Many of the properties in the Merchant City have either been newly constructed or recently converted so there is generally a high level of accommodation suitable for wheelchair users. Some flats however may still be split level in plan and therefore unsuitable for wheelchair users such as those on Brunswick Street above Mao Restaurant.
Flat Hunting: There is little seasonal variation in the demand for properties other than in the run up to Christmas when demand slows.
Family Accommodation: We would suggest looking elsewhere if you have a family and are looking for suitable family accommodation. The Merchant City stays busy at weekends until well into the small hours. The mood is generally light hearted and well mannered but we would suggest that it is best suited to professional singles and couples.
Affordable Accommodation: As with most good areas, many agents look to extend the actual boundaries of an area which is high in demand to allow a particular property to bask in the glow of the limelight. This is particularly true in the Merchant City where there is a dramatic contrast in rent prices between those within its boundaries and those just outside.
Generally speaking streets to the East of the High Street and to the South of Argyle Street and The Trongate are actually outside the Merchant City. Here prices tend to be more affordable although the quality of the accommodation can be more varied.
These areas do however tend to offer much more affordable alternatives to those who enjoy the buzz of the Merchant City but perhaps do not wish to stretch to the higher prices associated with the area. If these fringe areas are of interest then look at the Warehouse conversions on Bell Street just off High Street or the more recent Merchant Building on High Street.
We would not recommend looking much further East beyond High Street as accommodation can be more unpredictable the further east along the Gallowgate you travel. Accommodation in this area also suffers from the bustle and noise of the Barras Market which takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. which makes the streets very congested and the parking very difficult.
Another good tip for anyone renting in the Merchant City area is to look at the developments which have newly come on to the market. Many landlords will discount the rental price of their properties to reflect the increased amount of supply of properties available.
Not only will you be able to choose from several properties within the one development but you may even be able to negotiate a good price if you are willing to commit to a longer rental and you can prove that have a good credit rating.