Belfast Telegraph

Belfast cinema site may become massive office block for 3,000 staff

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By John Mulgrew

Belfast is set to get one of its biggest ever single office developments capable of holding 3,000 staff, amid plans to redevelop the site of a city centre cinema, it can be revealed.

The massive 260,000 sq ft development, which may be called 'One Bankmore Square', would be around 12-storeys in size and will see the current Movie House cinema on the Dublin Road being redeveloped. It's understood the existing building will be knocked down to make way for the top-end grade A office development.

And it's believed developers Richland Group will put the scheme out for public consultation in January.

The plans could also involve the redevelopment of the existing Bankmore Square area.

The building will be mostly made up of grade A office space, with some retail on the lower floors.

And while it's not yet clear what the future will be for the Movie House, developers may look at incorporating the cinema into the office building.

The new grade A office scheme is being built by Gary McCausland's Richland Group.

It has recently just completed a new apartment building just metres away from where the new office complex would stand.

The Richland Group's development The Gallery on Dublin Road is worth more than £8m.

It features 58 one and two-bedroom apartments in a price bracket of £115,000 to £195,000, as well as a ground floor cafe/bar.

The apartments are on sale through agents Simon Brien and Templeton Robinson.

The scheme was funded by Danske Bank.

Speaking about The Gallery, Gary McCausland, chief executive of the Richland Group, said: "The scheme is targeted at investors looking for good rental returns, first-time buyers, young professionals and possibly students or their parents interested in making a wise investment."

It has already sold several of the apartments.

The Richland Group's new proposed office building, which could be the single largest office development constructed here, follows plans to expand top-end grade A office space elsewhere in the city centre.

Around 100 construction jobs will be created with the redevelopment of a major city centre office building in a £4m investment.

And those behind the revamping of Londonderry House on Chichester Street say the development will be able to hold around 450 workers when fully let.

But the largest project already given the green light by planning officials is a £55m office building, also by property developer Paddy Kearney.

The Lanyon Central development will be beside Central Station in Belfast.

It is proposed to comprise four buildings, 14-storey and 10-storey office blocks, along with two smaller structures.

Commercial property firms say Belfast remains in short supply of grade A office space.

And in July, the renovation of a former Victorian linen warehouse and a 17-storey office extension was given the go-ahead.

The B+ listed Ewarts building on Bedford Street is due to be redeveloped and altered, alongside plans for a second new development, linked by a second-floor walkway.

And after sitting empty and disused for around 20 years, work can now begin on transforming the historic premises and surrounding area.

The four-storey sandstone structure was designed by James Hamilton.

He was also the architect bebehind the former Ulster Bank premises at Belfast's Waring Street, now the Merchant Hotel.

Belfast Telegraph

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