Revealed: New owner of police station on Belfast's Ormeau Road
The new owner of the former Ballynafeigh police station on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast can be revealed by the Belfast Telegraph.
Northern Ireland property tycoon Padraig Drayne has been identified as the private developer who bought the station in December last year amid reports it may become a retail unit.
However, the Belfast Telegraph understands the property - which was on the market for £900,000 - was snapped up by Mr Drayne with a view to building retail and residential units.
At the time of the sale, the PSNI said the building had been sold to a private developer, but until now the identity of the buyer had remained unknown.
The sale of the police station was handled by Belfast-based Dougan Residential and Commercial but no planning applications have yet been submitted.
A spokesman for Mr Drayne confirmed the developer was behind the purchase of the former police station and said that a mixture of residential and retail units will be built.
The police station was closed to the public by the PSNI in February 2011 and has remained unoccupied for several years.
Patricia McNeill, from Ormeau Business Park, welcomed the news that more housing and retail units will be built on the Ormeau Road.
She said: "We are encouraged to see signs of economic growth in the area and in particular we would envisage that more housing will create better opportunities and will lead to further growth of retail and business activity on the road."
Mr Drayne, from Co Tyrone, has been involved with several developments in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The developer, along with his business partner, Belfast-born developer Paddy McKillen, was involved in the £50m extension of Ards Shopping Centre. Mr McKillen is not involved with the Ormeau Road police station development.
Mr Drayne is involved in plans to build an exclusive multi-million euro apartment development in the Dublin suburb of Malahide. The developer plans to build a five-storey building that will include 23 apartments.
Mr Drayne also became embroiled in Mr McKillen's lengthy legal battle against the billionaire Barclay brothers, in the fight to control the Maybourne hotel group. The Maybourne group includes luxury properties, such as Claridge's, the Connaught and the Berkeley.
Hospitality group Tullymore House announced it had acquired the derelict former Holy Rosary church on the Ormeau Road earlier this year. Tullymore, which owns the award-winning Galgorm Resort and Spa and Fratelli group of Italian eateries, is investing £1m to turn the church into a Fratelli's restaurant. Caffe Nero also came to the Ormeau Road, with a new store opening up in March, with the coffee chain taking on a vacant building on a 10-year lease.
Alastair MacCaulay, a former solicitor who has recently opened up an ice cream and gelato shop called Al Gelato on the Ormeau Road, said: "I think the Ormeau Road is the most up-and-coming road in Belfast.
"There's a lot of young professionals and young families around the place and there is a real community feel to it. I am from the Lisburn Road and there is not a huge community feel there compared to the Ormeau Road."