Titanic Quarter boosts Belfast architects in pursuit of US port bonanza
A Belfast architecture firm is in the final stages of securing a contract to help redevelop a multi-million pound US waterfront - inspired by the city's own Titanic Quarter development.
John Reid - partner at architects Robinson McIlwaine - is currently in Washington finalising work on an ambitious project at the Port of Bellingham.
It's understood it will include the redevelopment of existing buildings, as well the creation of new hotels and residential waterfront property.
The firm is hoping to be involved in the redevelopment of some 140 acres of waterfront - with the initial phase thought to be around 10-20 acres.
Harcourt Developments - developer of the Titanic Quarter in Belfast - hopes to secure the major contract for the development of the US port.
Titanic Quarter has provided a calling card for Harcourt, which is led by Pat Doherty.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph from Washington, John Reid said it was an "astonishing project and opportunity".
"A lightbulb lit up when I heard about the port - and I believed there was momentum, and we could do something," he said.
"This will be a significant project between a number of firms, including Belfast, alongside the US - working on one, huge redevelopment.
"It's also establishing a strong link between Belfast and the West Coast in the US - whereas a lot of business is normally done on the other side of the country."
Once a former thriving logging site, Mr Reid made initial inroads with the port's bosses over the hugely ambitious overhaul, more than a year ago.
The project is expected to cost $44m (£28m) with half of the cost covered by the state, and could take around eight years to complete.
Georgia Pacific - the former operator of the site - sold it for a token $10 (£6) in 2006 in return for Port of Bellingham taking charge of environmental clean-up at the property.
The port's executive director, Rob Fix, has also recently returned from a research trip to Belfast, which included a trip to Titanic Quarter and Dublin.