Plans unveiled for Belfast's first apart-hotel
A Belfast property firm has unveiled its plans for a new 14-storey apart-hotel in the centre of the city.
Oaklands Holdings has submitted a planning application to Belfast City Council to demolish the Lyndon Court building at the junction of Queen Street and College Street and develop 184 self-catering apartments.
The new high-rise, close to Belfast City Hall, would include a bar and restaurant, meeting rooms, event space and a basement gymnasium. The planning application, which was submitted within the last two weeks, was officially announced at an international property event in Cannes.
MIPIM is a four-day global gathering for developers and property market stakeholders.
One of the largest-ever delegations from Northern Ireland has travelled to France for the event. It includes around 100 delegatesfrom Belfast and the surrounding regions.
Among those to make the journey was Gareth Graham, who heads Oakland Holdings. The company is in the processing of completing the 230,000 sq ft Merchant Square office development in Belfast city centre.
He said that after receiving a positive response to a pre-application consultation, the company has embarked on a bid to build what he said will be Belfast's first apart-hotel.
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"We've thoroughly researched the apart-hotel concept and provision in other major cities and believe that the business community in particular will welcome this development," he said.
"Our proposed apart-hotel is an ideal project for this site, complementing and enhancing the Queen Street area and providing appropriate leisure space, business space and bed space for the growing business and tourism sectors.
"Increasingly, businesses are choosing to locate in Belfast city centre and we are facilitating that increased investment," he added.
"This is the message we have brought to MIPIM this week as we continue to seek investment opportunities at home and elsewhere."
A report submitted with the planning application described Lyndon Court as "a disused and empty office space with struggling lower retail units".
Oakland Holdings put the building on the market during 2017 with a £2.5m asking price, but it was not sold.
Meanwhile, another major local property firm has used MIPIM to promote its major new office development to the world.
Killultagh Estates said The Mercantile, which is located next to the Bank of Ireland's headquarters on Donegall Square South in Belfast is expected to be ready by autumn 2020.
Construction work on the 73,000 sq ft grade A office building started in January.
The company said 10,000 sq ft of space on the lower floors will be available for potential restaurant and leisure space.
Jackie Henry from Deloitte, who is chairing the private sector contingent of the Belfast MIPIM delegation, said that the international event was a chance to highlight the importance of private and public-sector collaboration in attracting investment and building sustainable economic growth here.
"MIPIM is a prime example of how a strong partnership approach between the private and public sectors can provide the optimum environment for businesses to thrive," she said.
"Given the ongoing challenges brought about by Brexit uncertainty, it's more important than ever that, together, we get out and market Belfast and the surrounding region internationally.
"Investment in real estate not only delivers jobs and economic prosperity - it's essential to our ability to attract international businesses to our city, while supporting our indigenous businesses to grow and flourish."