A leading property developer is creating a major co-working office space at the site of a former restaurant in south Belfast, it can be revealed.
Gary McCausland told the Belfast Telegraph he's planning to turn the former ground-floor restaurant and cafe at The Gallery apartment development on the Dublin Road into a new co-working space.
The unit has remained empty since the original Gallery restaurant closed in 2018. Another business was expected to take on the site, but plans are now under way for the major revamp and change of use.
He said the retail and restaurant trade in Belfast was "really difficult and tough", leading to plans for a change in the large site's use as a high-end office.
Mr McCausland said the new development, if planning is approved, will become "something really special". In May last year plans for a new restaurant at The Gallery were announced, but are now no longer going ahead.
The Gallery apartment building is made up of 58 one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments on the outskirts of Belfast city centre, with many looking out over the busy Dublin Road.
The new plans for the flexible office scheme include the large downstairs, ground-floor area being transformed into a workspace, with desks and at least two meeting rooms, along with other offices and a photocopy room. And the upstairs mezzanine area shows additional desks and working areas.
Elsewhere, there are also plans to build 71 apartments beside The Gallery.
Developer John Smyth's Estates has been given the green light after it submitted an application for the 10-storey project on the Dublin Road.
And IT giant Kainos has also progressed with its own plans for new headquarters at the site of the Movie House cinema on the Dublin Road.
The firm said the office development at Bankmore Square will support its expansion and "ambitious" recruitment drive.
The company says the new headquarters will allow it to relocate more than 700 Belfast-based employees from multiple office spaces across the city into one building.
The site was formerly earmarked for a massive office scheme by Gary McCausland's firm The Richland Group, a £65m development first revealed by the Belfast Telegraph.
Kainos boss Brendan Mooney said he was "delighted to announce the start of an exciting new phase of Kainos' growth in NI", with the firm also recruiting for more than 40 roles.
"The continued growth has resulted in the company outgrowing its current office spaces and generating a need to centralise all of our Belfast team members under one roof," he said.
"Kainos is committed to providing exceptional careers and working conditions, and the development of new contemporary offices will ensure we maintain these standards.
"At Kainos, we are extremely proud of our people.
"They are central to everything we do and vital to our success.
"Therefore, we want to provide them with a terrific working experience and that includes contributing to a comfortable commute, and we believe this prime spot on Dublin Road will benefit our existing and future talent in this regard."