Hotel plans for 23-storey building
One of the tallest buildings in Ireland is to be turned into a 200 bedroom hotel as part of a £30 million redevelopment.
The Hastings Hotels Group said its transformation of the 23-storey Windsor House in Belfast city centre would create more than 150 new jobs.
The proposals for a four star hotel; restaurant and bar; serviced apartments, and office accommodation is subject to planning approval.
And if Hastings get the green light, it hopes to open the redeveloped Windsor House in 2018.
It intends to name the building the Grand Central Hotel in a nod to the long-gone Belfast hotel of the same name.
The group bought Windsor House, which was primarily used for office space in recent years, for £6 million last month.
Sir William Hastings, chairman of Hastings Hotels, said: "We are delighted to unveil the plans for what will be the seventh hotel in our portfolio in Northern Ireland.
"This acquisition represents our biggest single investment to date of £30 million and upon completion in 2018 the hotel will operate at the upper end of the four-star market, offering 200 bedrooms, a restaurant and bar, 18 serviced apartments and a range of superbly appointed office accommodation.
"The hotel will create over 150 new jobs.
"This project is a huge undertaking for Hastings Hotels and it is has only been made possible by the strength of our existing hotels portfolio and the quality of our staff and management.
"It will bring the number of bedrooms in our group to over 1,000 making us the largest privately owned hotel chain on the island of Ireland."
Sir William added: "I am also thrilled to announce that our new hotel will be called the Belfast Grand Central Hotel.
"The original Grand Central, which also boasted 200 bedrooms, was built in 1893 and was the thriving hub of Victorian Belfast as well as the finest hotel in Ireland.
"Winston Churchill, the King of Belgium, Al Jolson, Mario Lanza and the Beatles were all guests who enjoyed its luxurious hospitality.
"I am extremely proud to be able to pay tribute to this much loved property of the past by naming Belfast's newest hotel after it."
Stormont's economy minister Jonathan Bell welcomed the announcement.
"I have been very impressed by Hastings Hotels' vision for its new city centre hotel," he said.
"This is great news for Belfast and for Northern Ireland, as the group's continued investment is a massive vote of confidence in our tourism sector.
"The new hotel will add considerably to the local accommodation offering and allow Northern Ireland to capitalise further on the growing international business conference market."
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Arder Carson said: "This is great news for the city.
"One of our major objectives is to double the current tourism revenue by 2020 and developments such as this one by the Hastings Hotels Group are a huge step forward towards achieving that goal."