Belfast Telegraph

Aparthotel and pub among projects to benefit from £17m fund for Open Championship

By Ryan McAleer

A new aparthotel, a pub and an apartment complex in Portrush have received almost £1m in public funds as part of efforts to prepare the seaside resort for the 148th Open Championship in July.

The Department for Communities (DfC) said it has set aside several million pounds from a total £17m investment package for the purpose of bringing some of the town's buildings back to life.

The work includes improvements to streetscapes, enhancements to shop frontages and the new Portrush train station.

While DfC said those projects will be completed ahead of the start of the Major golf tournament, which runs at Royal Portrush from July 18-21, it admitted that the majority of projects will not be ready in time.

To date DfC has paid out £955,706 in grants to three developments, with another £2m worth of contracts issued for a number of as yet unnamed projects.

It said £354,000 has been awarded to The Quays Bar on Eglinton Street towards a refurbishment and extension, while £485,000 has been awarded to an apartment complex at 22 Dunluce Avenue.

Hotel group Andras House has also received £116,706 for its £1.4m plan to transform the former Northern Bank building on Main Street into serviced apartments with a bar and cafe. The group, which is run by the president of the Belfast Chamber Rajesh Rana, is also behind a £6.6m bid to develop the former Londonderry Hotel across the street. The proposal for an 87-bed hotel on the site has been met with some difficulties over the listed status of the current building.

DfC said yesterday that it is continuing to work with private developers to bring other schemes in Portrush forward, with new announcements expected later in the year.

However, given the long lead-in time, the majority of projects will not be delivered in advance of The Open, but will instead "leave a lasting legacy", according to DfC.

DfC's Paul McNaught said: "The department's investment to date has the potential to leverage £10m of private funding as well as redeveloping dilapidated buildings and vacant sites."

Belfast Telegraph

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