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£17m Belfast luxury apartment project on Ormeau Road to create 100 jobs

By John Mulgrew

A new luxury 'smart' apartment development in south Belfast will create 100 jobs during its construction, it can be revealed.

The now unveiled £17m Portland 88, a seven-storey apartment building, has just broken ground beside the current headquarters of UTV on the Ormeau Road.

Barnett Developments, which builds houses and apartments across the UK, bought the site in 2015.

The 88-apartment development is being built by Graham Construction, and was designed by Gregory Architects.

A 'home intelligence system' is expected to be one of the key selling points for the high-spec dwellings, the developers say.

This location had been earmarked for development for five years, and there was previously planning permission for a similar building.

The planned complex will include 74 two-bedroom, 10-one bedroom and four three-bedroom apartments. The development is scheduled for completion by December 2018.

Barnett Developments chief executive, Nick Barnett, said they aimed to create a "unique living experience".

"There is a growing optimism about Belfast, and we saw the opportunity to lead development of a new offering in city centre living," he explained. "As confidence has begun to return, we are pleased to be bringing something fresh to the local market.

"We have excellent local partners on board and now look forward to creating a truly unique living experience for inner city Belfast."

Those behind the complex say it will create some 100 jobs during a 21-month build period.

In addition to fitted kitchens with integrated appliances, floor coverings and built-in storage, the so-called 'smart' apartments will feature options to control heating and lighting from a smartphone.

The previous plans for the site included a 60-bedroom apartment development.

It is understood TDK Property was appointed receiver for the location in July 2012 and subsequently brought it to market in 2014. It then reportedly sold for £717,000 in 2015.

There are already a number of apartment buildings in the area, including Lucas Building and Tyrone House on Ormeau Avenue, and Somerset Studios and Shaftesbury Court buildings on Marcus Ward Street.

David Menary from Colliers has claimed the new Portland 88 is in line with a push by local government to encourage more people to live in the city. He also said it "will be one of the first luxury apartments to be delivered in this area of city centre for a number of years".

He added: "It is illustrative of a returning confidence in the city, and lies in a prime location with key community facilities and amenities located within a short walking distance of the site. This development caters for city centre living as envisaged by Belfast City Council's Belfast Agenda which aims to see 70,000 more people living in Belfast by 2035. Portland 88 will no doubt appeal to young professionals and couples who work in the city and wish to live in an urban setting."

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