A Titanic landmark to dwarf City Hall
Tourists to Belfast may be able to enjoy a 'Titanic' experience within the next five years if plans for an exciting new visitor attraction are given the go-ahead.
The Titanic Signature Project, to be built at the heart of the city's Titanic Quarter, will feature re-creations of and exhibitions about the doomed liner, which sank in the north Atlantic in 1912 after hitting an iceberg.
And a state-of-the-art 'flying theatre' - one of only a handful in the world - could even give visitors the opportunity to recreate a dive to the wreck of the ship on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean.
Over two-thirds of funding for the £90m project has already been pledged by the Government, along with Titanic Quarter Limited and Belfast Harbour Commissioners. Hopes are now resting on a final £25m boost from the Big Lottery Fund's Living Landmarks Programme.
Representatives from the organisation are in Belfast this week to assess the project and determine whether it will receive the funding it needs.
Brian Ambrose, chairman of the Titanic Foundation, said: "This project is a unique opportunity to create international excellence for Belfast and Northern Ireland.
"It will play a central role in establishing Northern Ireland as a world class tourist destination and will also provide an important resource of lasting value to the community.
"We welcome the representatives from the Big Lottery Fund and look forward to showing them the exciting plans for the Titanic Signature Project, which will be a landmark tourism, leisure and cultural facility."
As well as themed galleries and interactive exhibits, the five-level building - which will be twice the size of Belfast City Hall - will feature a banqueting suite, conference facilities, community arts and education facilities and exhibition spaces as well as a restaurant, cafe and shop.
Organisers are planning to have the project completed by 2012, in time for the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking.
Una Reilly, of the Belfast Titanic Society, said: "The Titanic Signature Project is firmly rooted in the history and character of Belfast.
"It has the potential to act as a focal point for all communities while also developing a sense of pride in our heritage."
When completed, the Titanic Quarter redevelopment will include 5,000 apartments and 180,000sq m of business, education, office and research and development space on a 185-acre waterfront site.
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