Work is about to get under way on the £6.7m Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre to be built in Galashiels.
Stirling-based Ogilvie Construction has been given the contract to build the landmark tourist attraction, designed by Glasgow architectural firm Page Park.
Work is expected to start within weeks at the town centre site in High Street and next-door Channel Street.
The visitor centre, to be managed by Live Borders once it opens next spring, will kick-start a series of regeneration projects lined up for the town.
Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “This is a hugely exciting time for Galashiels and the Borders.
“I am delighted we now have an experienced and trusted contractor in place to take forward the building of this nationally-significant attraction, with the artist’s impressions indicating it will be a stunning piece of architecture in Galashiels town centre.
“Jobs will be created during construction of the facility, alongside a wide range of social, economic and educational benefits once the building opens to the public.
“Heritage and culture experts predict the centre will attract over 50,000 people to Galashiels each year once opened, as well as creating 16 new jobs at the facility.
“In addition, almost £900,000 of extra spending per year is predicted for the local economy, providing 12,000 extra visits to complementary attractions, supporting a further 17 jobs.
“The tapestry is the first stage of a wider masterplan to regenerate Galashiels which is starting to see encouraging developments such as the expansion of local estate agent Cullen Kilshaw into the transport interchange and positive community feedback on the Coulter’s Candy sculpture.
“With the Jim Clark Museum set to open this year in Duns, a £1.3m Hawick conservation area regeneration scheme being announced and continued investment in key events, there are more and more reasons for people to come to the Scottish Borders.”
Council chief executive Tracey Logan said: “The tapestry project partners have been working collaboratively to get to this stage, and it is excellent to reach this milestone.”
Tapestry trustee Alistair Moffat said: “The Great Tapestry of Scotland is an object not only of great beauty and power, but it will also act as an engine for renewal.
“As large-scale retail moves to the periphery of towns and cities, it is magnetic cultural attractions like the tapestry that will bring back life to the centres of these beautiful places.
“The huge success of the V&A in Dundee, attracting 500,000 visitors in six months, double estimates, is only the latest example of how well this strategy works.”
Donald MacDonald, managing director of Ogilvie Construction, said: “We are delighted to be part of such a prestigious initiative for Galashiels and the Borders.
“The new visitor centre will be built to the highest standards, creating a first-class facility, and we will look forward to engaging with the local community throughout the construction period.”
Mike Gray, chairman of the community group Energise Galashiels, added: “We are thrilled to support the Great Tapestry of Scotland project and look forward to watching as things progress over the coming months.”