Business

Former Kremlin owners plan 'designer hotel' in Belfast

An artist's impression of how the new hotel will appear on Waring Street

THE former owners of Belfast gay nightclub The Kremlin have applied to build a hotel in nearby Waring Street.

Kremlin Associates want to turn the Belfast War Memorial Building in the heart of the Cathedral quarter into a 63-bed four-star hotel.

It is understood partners Andre Graham and Seamus Sweeney paid just over £1 million when the bought the building last month.

Mr Graham said the total investment to bring the hotel to completion was expected to be £7m.

They have asked to convert the building to a hotel with conference and leisure facilities.

The facade of the building will remain relatively the same although it has been proposed to construct a concrete canopy over the entrance.

Meanwhile, it is planned to extend the property to the year and create a garden courtyard.

The hotel, if approved, would be just yards from the Merchant Hotel and Premier Inn.

Speaking to the Irish News, Mr Graham said his hotel would "sit directing between them, in that we are aiming to be a four-star hotel".

"We will be aiming business people coming into Belfast and upwardly mobile young people.

"It will be a designer hotel, not boutique, but will have designer features".

The site was formerly occupied by Queen Anne Hotel but the building was destroyed during the Belfast Blitz in 1941.

The existing building - which now has listed status - was completed in 1961 as the official permanent War Memorial Building in the north.

Mr Graham said it was a site with "interesting history".

"It was the site of one of two sugar houses and there was a lane that ran right through to High Street, the SugarhouseEntry and we hope the council can reopen that.

"And there was a pub right on the corner of the site where the United Irish Society was formed by Wolff Tone."

The architects for the hotel scheme McGonigle McGrath said it was intended to renew the windows and screens of the building in bronze as per the original intentions for the building.

"The new building is derived from the original, emphasising it's rhythm and proportion, but executed in grey brick with concrete expression of floor edge, creating a simple repeated pattern of voids," they said.

"Where these voids light bedrooms, decorated bronze panels provide the requisite privacy. The use of brick piers as the expression of the vertical structure at once implies a subservience to the original building but also acknowledges the tradition of structural brick warehouses in Belfast, and references the spirit of the modern movement, handsomely retained in the existing building.

"A new brick walled outdoor space completes the composition, and serves as a central garden courtyard providing access to the series of public spaces and rooms within the retained and new buildings. High quality surfaces reflect the rigour of the adjoining elevations, and a single mature tree provides colour."

Mr Graham and Mr Sweeney opened the Kremlin on Donegall Street in 1999 but sold the club last year.

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