A masive multi-million pound renaissance of Belfast was today unveiled with the Lord Mayor heralding 2009 as a momentous year for the city.
The Ulster Hall will be the first in a number of landmark buildings and new developments to open this year, in what the City Council describes as a rebirth for Belfast.
Speaking at the City Hall today where he revealed around £500m had been invested in the city over the last few years, the Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Tom Hartley, said that despite the economic downturn 2009 should be “a year like no other in the city’s history”.
Mr Hartley added that throughout the course of the year people will see how Belfast is a “vibrant city full of opportunity, inspiring enterprise, creativity and change”
“Now is the time and Belfast is the place where anything is possible,” he said.
On March 6, the historic Ulster Hall will be the first of the iconic buildings to open in the city in 2009 after a major two-year refurbishment programme.
The £8.5m scheme included refitting and redecorating the main auditorium and a moveable stage extension.
Belfast City Hall is also due to re-open in August after being temporarily closed since October 2007.
Major renovations to the building will include replacing heating, mechanical and electrical systems, asbestos removal, re-roofing and installing computer network systems.
Other investments are The Boat development at Custom House Square in July, Saint Anne’s Square in September and the upgrade of the M1/Westlink in March.
Meanwhile St Malachy’s Church in Alfred Street will re-open next month after being restored to its former glory after a £3.5m investment.
And in 2010, the Belfast Sewers Project is due to be completed, as is work on the Obel Tower — Northern Ireland’s tallest building.
The new Lyric Theatre is due to open in 2010 and work will continue on the Titanic Signature Project which aims to establish the Titanic Quarter as a major tourism destination.
Mr Hartley said: “Against a backdrop of economic downturn and job loss, this is the time for our city to claim solutions and turn its back on despair. This investment has gone into maintaining and promoting the rich cultural heritage of our city through the refurbishing of its iconic buildings.
“It will go towards building on the solid foundations for the future of Belfast in the striking new developments of Saint Anne’s Square, Queen’s University’s Sir Anthony O’Reilly Library, the University of Ulster’s new Belfast Campus and the Obel Tower.”
Other highlights include the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge in August.