Northern Ireland builders signed up for £50m project to regenerate Bangor
Two well-known building firms in Northern Ireland have been appointed to carry out a long-awaited £50m regeneration of Queen's Parade in Bangor.
The Department for Communities announced that Bangor Marine will take up the project at Marine Gardens to develop a public area including events space, a hotel, cafes, homes and office space.
Development of the area has been discussed since around 1997.
Bangor Marine is made up of Aran Blackbourne of Karl Group, the original developer of the landmark Obel building at Belfast's waterfront, and construction firm Farrans.
Karl Group was linked to earlier plans for the development of the site in 2009 through Karl Greenfarm Properties. The site was acquired by the-then Department for Social Development in 2012, then put up for sale at the end of last year.
Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary at the department, said: "This development and the £50m investment in Bangor will generate new jobs, new shops, new offices, new homes and make this area of Bangor a place to see and visit. It will help to support a number of areas that we know are important to the vitality of our town centres, especially employment and tourism.
"The new hotel and cafes will encourage more tourists to visit Bangor and help to support the retail offering and enhance the evening economy.
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"The new homes will lead to more people living in Bangor again supporting local consumer outlets."
Richard Smart, the mayor of North Down and Ards, said: "The regeneration of Queen's Parade is critical to the future of Bangor and to maximising the economic growth potential of the wider borough of Ards and North Down.
He said that the appointment of Bangor Marine marked "a very significant and exciting step forward".
And he said the project was expected to draw further investment into the town.
A 12-week period of community consultation will now take place to give the public the opportunity to comment on the project.
Karl Group managing director Aran Blackbourne said Bangor Marine was delighted to sign up to deliver what he said would be a "life-changing development" for the people of Bangor and beyond. "This joint venture, between Farrans and Karl, has worked hard with the design team, DfC and the council to bring the project to this stage, and we are very excited that we can now up the momentum and engage with the public and all stakeholders to help make Bangor reach its full potential."