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Former Belfast city centre linen warehouse set to be redeveloped in £6m office project


Armagh House, Ormeau Avenue Belfast

Armagh House, Ormeau Avenue Belfast

Armagh House, Ormeau Avenue Belfast

A former linen warehouse in Belfast city centre which has been sitting empty for more than a decade is finally set to be redeveloped after years of setbacks.

Armagh House was due to be turned into a number developments over the years, but several were put off due to the economic downturn.

Now, it's due to be turned into a mixed use building, with office space on most of the floors, alongside a restaurant and possibly retail at ground level.

It's thought the project could be worth around £6m.

The company behind the project is Armagh House Ltd, which was appointed by the Department for Social Development after it issued a brief in 2013.

One of those behind the scheme is property developer Aran Blackbourne, who was also behind Ireland's tallest building, the Obel.

The building was placed into administration back in 2012.

It's understood the Karl Group is also involved in the ambitious new project.

A spokesperson for DSD said the building is currently owned by the department, but work, and funding, will now be provided by the new company taking the development forward.

"A development brief competition was advertised in November 2013 and following the selection of a preferred developer the department has been moving forward with the finalisation of a development agreement for a restaurant/cafe on the ground floor and office accommodation above," the spokesperson said.

"The redevelopment of Armagh House will be taken forward by the preferred developer and the department will not provide any financial support."

While at the early stages, it's understood drawings and detailed plans are being prepared and are due to be submitted in the next few days.

Plans for the new development include some demolition of "part of elevation" to provide a new entrance at the corner of Alfred Street and Ormeau Avenue.

In 2007, the Department for Social Development appointed one firm to develop the red-brick building on Ormeau Avenue, turning it into an upmarket apartment hotel.

It was hoped the project - which was due to include 30 apartments and two penthouse suites - would have created 100 new jobs.

Work on the £20m project was due to begin in late 2008.

But the developers - Tullymore House Ltd, which runs the Galgorm Resort and Spa owned by Nicholas and Paul Hill - pulled out of the project, saying it was no longer economically viable, just as the downturn began.

In 2010, DSD announced the scheme had been dropped as a result of economic conditions following the recession.

However, in late 2013 the department issued a new development brief inviting proposals from the private sector to redevelop the vacant building.

Built in 1907, Armagh House is a four-storey red brick warehouse designed by William J Roome for Greeves, Ridgeway & Co Linen and Damask Manufacturers.

By the 1940s it was converted to government office use and it continued to be used in that way until the early 2000s. It has remained vacant ever since.

Belfast Telegraph