The public have been invited to give their views on the planned £75m redevelopment of the former Belfast Telegraph building.
Businesses and other interest parties attended an information event at the site on Tuesday, which will be transformed into a multi-use development known as “The Sixth”, featuring office and commercial space.
The project is a joint venture between Belfast City Council and established property developer McAleer & Rushe and it is expected to create around 650 jobs during construction and more than 2,000 jobs when fully occupied.
The project’s name is inspired by the Belfast Telegraph’s original evening edition - the street vendors’ call of “Sixth Late Tele” was a familiar sound throughout Belfast for more than a century.
Featuring 230,000 sq ft of commercial space, The Sixth, on Royal Avenue, will also have an “active” ground floor comprised of cafes, restaurants and retail outlets.
The fully developed scheme will contribute an additional c. £1.5M per annum in local business rates.
Through a series of information boards featuring artist's impressions of The Sixth and other blueprints, Tuesday’s event provided a step-by-step look at how the development will proceed.
Built in 1886, the Belfast Telegraph building was home to the city’s newspaper for more than 100 years, before it moved to new premises at City Quays in September 2016.
Originally known as the Seaver building, it is Grade B2 listed and over the years has been extended several times, now forming part of a complex of attached and interconnected buildings.
Non-listed parts of the site will be demolished and replaced with a “cohesive development sympathetically designed with regard to the surrounding built heritage and streetscape”.
The new development is strongly geared towards providing a workspace for the creative and tech sectors, as many of the boards at Tuesday’s event stated.
“The Sixth will capitalise on its location by creating a media and creative sector cluster with close integration and physical proximity to learning and innovation environments - becoming part of the city’s growing innovation/creative district,” one read.
While the plans depict a modern, stylish building - several boards also pointed out that care has been taken to ensure it maintains many of its historical features. Other nods to the buildings historic past are also included in the plans.
“Using a combination of two brick colours and two brick bonds, the bays and upper floor setbacks echo the local character and enhance the Belfast Telegraph building,” one board read.
The designs also include the restoration of some features that have been removed or lost from the original building such as the access point onto Royal Avenue and re-introduction of a form of dormer windows.
The Sixth is designed by Stirling Prize-winning architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) and is part of Belfast City Council’s wider Inner North West Masterplan.
Designed to guide the future development of specific areas of need in Belfast, the Inner North West Masterplan covers 42 acres of the city centre, and is bounded by Millfield/Carrick Hill to the northwest, College Street/Fountain Street/Fountain Lane to the south and Royal Avenue to the east.
The Sixth project also proposes a new public route to open up the site and connect it to the surrounding areas.
The proposed Streets Ahead Phase 3 scheme will develop a new public square between The Sixth and Central Library to the West, and Bouy Park/Cathedral Gardens to the South East.
A planning application for the scheme will be submitted following a 12-week pre-application community consultation (of which Tuesday’s event was a part) led by national planning consultants Turley.