Luxury £13m Belfast apartments delayed by a year as issues with cost and design force rethink
Design and cost problems have delayed a luxury £13m apartment block in Belfast city centre by up to a year.
The 75-flat Matic building was due to include a 22m pool, private gym, 24-hour concierge service and four penthouse apartments.
An initial tranche of homes at the yet-to-be built development sold out in under a day in May.
But in a turn of events sure to disappoint the dozens of people who have already put down deposits, those behind the development said they had "made a commercial decision not to proceed immediately with construction".
They added that the delay was down to "design, structural and cost implications".
The apartment development is being built and run by Village Homes NI. It is being marketed, meanwhile, by estate agent Simon Brien.
Some of the penthouse apartments in the building will cost up to £300,000 each.
Phase one of the 12-storey Matic development on Chichester Street - which included 22 apartments - sold within 10 hours.
The developers admitted that further consultations could delay the scheme by up to a year.
But they added that it would "hopefully" be relaunched at "some stage in 2017". The developer also said it was reapplying for planning permission to add parking spaces.
The people who put down money for an apartment have had their deposits returned, according to a letter sent by Simon Brien and seen by the Belfast Telegraph.
"Due to these setbacks and the inability to determine an exact programme until the design and structural elements have been visited, our client has requested that we return your deposit in full," the letter forwarded to buyers reads.
"They have also advised us that when the scheme is re-launched (hopefully at some stage in 2017), we will be reverting to those parties who had previously booked to present details of the revised scheme and to offer an opportunity to purchase prior to formal marketing."
One buyer said that he was contacted by his estate agent earlier this week and informed of the issues.
A huge sign on the site of the proposed development has also been removed. The developer behind the scheme, Alan Fraser admitted that it had been held up.
"The commencement of development at The Matic residential apartment scheme at Chichester street, Belfast has been delayed until 2017," Mr Fraser said.
"The developer has chosen to reapply for planning permission to substantially increase the number of sub-building parking spaces to accommodate demand from interested buyers."
One to three-bedroom apartments went on sale in May, with prices starting from around £134,950. It was originally due to be completed by the end of 2017.
The building is being named The Matic in reference to John Dunlop, the inventor of the pneumatic tyre who lived in Belfast in the late 19th century.