Cafe and apartments conversion plan for Belfast literary haunt Bookfinders
One of Belfast's most popular literary haunts in the Queen's Quarter will be converted into a cafe and apartments, if a new planning application gets the go-ahead.
Alterity Developments, based in Annadale, south Belfast, wants to turn the former Bookfinders cafe and secondhand book store, and its neighbouring unit, into one cafe space while converting the upper levels into apartments.
The site on 45-47 University Street is a three-story B1 listed building and is next to restaurant Holohans Pantry.
In its application, Inside Out Architects, who will be responsible for the design should planning go ahead, said: "This area is one that must be protected for the great examples of architecture that exists. The graceful terraces of the university neighbourhood (1840-1860) represent the final construction of Georgian architecture in Belfast.
"The proposal is to provide new restaurant space on the ground floor. This will be achieved by combining numbers 45 and 47 on the ground floor. This will involve minimal interventions to create a unique space. The form of the building will still be readable."
The concept statement said the second floors will feature apartments while the exterior of the building "is to be enhanced by upgrading and decorating the windows".
Bookfinders, which occupied the site, became an institution for those with a love of reading over a period of 35 years.
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Run by Mary Denvir, it welcomed a host of characters from the Northern Ireland arts world. Ms Denvir closed the store late last year.
In September a Facebook post said: "For everyone who loved Bookfinders, the shop closed on November 1, 2018. Mary is now selling books at St George's Market on Fridays and some Sundays. You can find her there, cheerful as ever."
Andrew Carleton at Alterity Developments, which formerly traded as Deramore, said he could not make comment while the application was going through the planning process.
He added that the firm would make an update "once formal approval has been obtained and a tenant sourced".
Last year Alerity is thought to have paid a multi-million pound amount for an 8,000 sq ft property in Castle Place which was formerly occupied by Mothercare.
Meanwhile, Ballymena-based Corbo Limited is planning to convert the former home of Poundworld at 2A Boucher Crescent in the Boucher Retail Park into a cafe facility. It intends to employ five staff members at the 153 sq m unit.