El Divino owner's new hotel set to begin work

According to the hoardings around the site on Waring Street, the hotel will be opening at the end of this year. Picture: Hugh Russell
Andrew Madden

WORK on a new 63-room hotel in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter is set to get under way within the next few weeks.

Plans for the refurbishment of the War Memorial Building on Waring Street were originally put forward by Kremlin Associates, led by Andre Graham and Seamus Sweeney, following the purchase of the site for £1.2 million in 2016.

Kremlin Associates had previously owned The Kremlin nightclub, Union Street and The Shoe Factory, before selling off the businesses in 2014.

Last year, the War Memorial project was taken over by Paul Langsford's Gravity Group, although it is understood that Kremlin Associates are retaining ownership of the building.

The Gravity Group was incorporated last September and another company named Gravity Holdings Limited, also under Mr Langsford's name, was incorporated just a week ago.

The businessman currently owns El Divino nightclub and also purchased the Frames Complex on Little Donegal Street earlier this year.

The original architects of the hotel development on Waring Street were Belfast-based McGonigle McGrath, who still list the project in their list of developments on their website, under the title ‘Hotel Belfast'.

The plans for the development include a ground floor restaurant and bar, alongside several function rooms and a gym. A 'spa and wellbeing' centre is also due to be included on the ground floor.

In the original designs, the outside of listed building is due to get a makeover, with its external stone framework and brick and slate façade being restored.

A new concrete canopy over the hotel's entrance is also detailed in the plans.

New windows, bordered in bronze, are set to give the outward look of the building a modernist touch. The addition of a brick-walled outdoor courtyard will also be added to provide access to a series of open, public spaces.

Several single, mature trees are due to be dotted around the exterior of the building, adding colour to site.

Mr Langsford currently operates a string of successful pubs and clubs in Belfast, including Filthy McNasty's on the Dublin Road and The Albany on the Lisburn Road. The Chinawhite nightclub and Rita's on Franklin Street are also included in the businessman's portfolio.

Hoardings went up around the Waring Street building more than a month ago, with the exact layout and aesthetic of the inside of the hotel remaining a mystery.

And this mystery is only furthered by the tempting but ambiguous slogan painted on the side of the barrier which reads: "Hustle now. Sleep later."

A notice on the outside of the building indicates construction is due to be completed by the end of this year.


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