Gravity Group submit fresh plans for new 37-room Belfast hotel

The proposed finished hotel on Waring Street in Belfast city centre
Andrew Madden

UPDATED plans have been submitted for a £5 million hotel in Belfast city centre, following the arrival of new developers to the project.

The War Memorial building on Waring Street was originally sold to Kremlin Associates in October 2015 for the purposes of creating a 63-room hotel.

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

In March last year, plans were filed for the proposed restoration of the external façade, a new concrete canopy at the hotel entrance and an extension to the rear of the existing building.

But the project changed hands a few months ago with property developers Chanro Investments taking over, with the Gravity Group named as operators.

The newly formed Gravity Group is spearheaded by Paul Langsford, owner of the Il Divino nightclub and several bars in Belfast.

Last week, The Irish News revealed the original blueprints for the project, which sought bring drastic changes to the building.

The new designs, drawn up by Dickson Fitzgerald Architects, however, envisage a "less intensive" site development modelled on the contemporary aesthetic of The Dean Hotel in Dublin and The Shoreditch Hotel in London.

Previous plans for an extension to the year of the building have been scrapped and a new rooftop pavilion and bar have been added, sheltered by timber lattice roof.

The subtraction of the proposed extension to the building and other changes mean the total number of rooms has been reduced significantly, from 63 to 37.

In an analysis accompanying the plans, the developers state that they were keen to respect the history of the building and as such have opted to allow the original style of the building to inform the new designs.

"The use of brick as the expression of the vertical structure at once implies subservience to the stone in the original building but also acknowledges the structural brick tradition in Belfast's Urban Architecture," they wrote.

Furthermore, as opposed to drastically altering the façade of the building, it will be restored with the existing stonework and slate panelling beneath the windows being repaired and cleaned, as will the current windows which dominate the structure.

Inside the building, the previously proposed ground floor restaurant is to be moved up to the forth floor and the bottom level will be entirely open plan, incorporating a bar, lounge, lobby and reception area. The car park at the rear of the building is also to be transformed into a landscaped garden courtyard.

The five storey office building was first built as the War Memorial Building built between 1959 and 1961 for the Council of the NI War Memorial.

It has since undergone various incarnations, most recently as an office building.

Building on the new project is set to commence in the coming weeks.


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