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El Divino and Albany owner wants to create hotel in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter

By John Mulgrew

A company run by the man behind Belfast nightspots El Divino and The Albany is creating a new hotel in the city's Cathedral Quarter, it can be revealed.

The business, operated by Paul Langsford, is planning to develop the former War Memorial Building on Waring Street.

The hotel was originally due to be built by Kremlin Associates, led by Andre Graham and Seamus Sweeney.

However, Gravity Group, which includes Mr Langsford as its sole director, is now overseeing the development.

The original hotel plans were approved by Belfast City Council earlier this year, with the hotel to be called The Waring.

Under the proposals, the structure - one of only two listed buildings in Belfast from the 1950s - was to be turned into a designer hotel with 63 rooms.

However, it is now expected that fresh plans will be submitted in the near future.

No one from the company was available for comment.

Business partners Mr Graham and Mr Sweeney bought the building for £1.2m last year, having sold their previous businesses - The Kremlin, Union Street and the Shoe Factory - in 2014.

The building was also previously bought by Frank Boyd's Killultagh Estates in 2007 for around £7m.

Earlier this year, one of Mr Langsford's companies also bought the Frames Complex on Little Donegall Street.

The building is currently home to a bar and function room, a pool/snooker room, a sunbed suite, a nail salon, gym and a barber. It was formerly owned by brothers Gerard and James Magee, from Gracemount Enterprises.

Mr Langsford has launched a series of other bars and nightspots in Belfast over the last few years, including Rita's and nightclub Chinawhite on Franklin Street in the city centre.

Last year he also unveiled a new rooftop bar, The Perch, which sits on top of the development.

It replaced Asian-inspired bar Shiro, which was open for little more than a year.

Mr Langsford's plan for the Cathedral Quarter hotel is just one of around 20 projects at various stages of development in Belfast city centre.

These include Grand Central, which will be Northern Ireland's largest hotel.

Hastings Group is seeking to revamp its plans for the hotel, which will have 304 rooms.

The £30m four-star project will transform the 23-storey Windsor House, located on Bedford Street.

It represents the single biggest investment by family-run Hastings Hotels throughout the company's history.

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