An Cultúrlann on sale for £625,000 as owners plan health hub

An Cultúrlann in west Belfast has gone on the market for £625,000
Gary McDonald Business Editor

AN Cultúrlann arts and Irish language centre in west Belfast is up for sale for £625,000.

And a deal to complete the purchase is "likely within days", according to its owners Springfield Charitable Association (SCA).

The charity says it needs to release capital to fund a new £1.5 million purpose-built hub for older people’s activity at nearby Cupar Street, which it intends to open by next summer.

But while there will be a new name on the Culturlann deeds, the Falls Road cultural and Gaeltacht hub will continue to function as normal, because a stipulation of any sale is that the remaining 43 years on the current lease must be seen out.

The SCA has spent more than a year planning the disposal of the Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich (An Cultúrlann), which opened in 1991 in the former Broadway Presbyterian Church.

It has emerged that one offer has already been tabled, meeting the asking price, with three more likely buyers set to reveal their hand in the coming days.

Those vying to own the Culturlann are understood to include consortia from the community sector, social enterprises as well as a private investor.

The SCA says it has been forced into selling its principal asset because it has had no public funding towards the cost of its proposed Cupar Street facility, which is describes as "a youth club for older people" and a "Rolls Royce type of health care provision".

It will comprise a day resource centre for older people consisting of activity rooms, library, treatment rooms, communication and consultation rooms, a hydrotherapy pool and an older people’s gym.

There will also be an advice centre service accessible to the entire local community, rentable office and training spaces to support income generation and sustainability, an urban allotment and horticultural garden, and a centralised administration and headquarters base for the Springfield charity.

"This new hub will cost around £1.5 million, and we need to raise half of that in capital cost," SCA chief executive Terry O'Neill told the Irish News.

"We've had no public support whatsoever, so have been forced to sell assets to raise the necessary funds.

"We have identified an appropriate selling price and already have on firm offer on the table. We expect three more to follow within days, and then the board of directors will make a decision," he added.

"We want work to commence on the Cupar Street redevelopment immediately after Christmas, and our target is to have it completed by next June."

The Springfield Charitable Association has already paid £160,000 to purchase the old Lawther Building at 16 Cupar Street from the Belfast Health Trust, which contains more than 9,200 square feet of space across two floors.

The total cost of the refurbishment will be in excess of £1.5 million of which SCA must contribute half.

The Cultúrlann building in the heart of Belfast’s vibrant Gaeltacht Quarter takes its name from two eminent Gaelic scholars – Robert Shipboy McAdam and Tomas O Fiaich.

Attracting around 100,000 visitors a year, it is home to an art gallery named after local artist Gerard Dillon, a theatre, the Bia café and restaurant, a book shop, offices and conference rooms.

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