Entrepreneurs announce hospitality restoration plan for Belfast's Upper Crescent

Cecil Hetherington (left) and Anthony Kieran (right) of Aurient Ltd at the former Regency House in south Belfast’s Upper Crescent, which will undergo a £2.5m restoration. Picture by Kelvin Boyes.
Ryan McAleer

MID-19th century buildings close to Queen’s University are to be transformed into luxury apartments in a £2.5 million investment.

Anthony Kieran and Cecil Hetherington, the entrepreneurs behind the UsedCarsNI platform, have announced their plans to turn the former Regency House in Upper Crescent into an 8,000 sq ft hospitality venture.

Two of the now derelict buildings on Upper Crescent, originally built in 1846 by timber merchant Robert Corry, will be turned into six apartments, targeting long-stay and short-stay visitors to the city from this summer.

The pair, who run the Lisburn Road-based investment house Aurient Ltd, have described it as a passion project.

Architect Gerry Rogers, builder Noel Savage and interior designer Orla Higgins have been brought on board for the restoration scheme, which will involve a team of around 50 people.

In a separate acquisition, Aurient Ltd has also bought 14 Lower Crescent, just off Botanic Avenue, with the intention of creating seven apartments.

“Upper Crescent has always been an area of personal interest to me,” said Anthony Kieran.

“When we first started our business in 2003, I would drive or walk through the Crescent and remarked often at the amazing feats of architecture before me and how unfortunate it was that they had been derelict for so long.

“When the option came to buy them several years ago, we weighed it up and decided it was a risk worth taking, even though we had never invested in commercial property before, let alone a restoration project.”

He said the area next to Queen’s University is full of potential for its architectural heritage, as well as its day and night-time economy and green urban spaces.

“It has long been crying out for regeneration,” said Mr Kieran. “We hope this venture will truly breathe new life, not just into Regency House as it was formerly known, but to both Upper and Lower Crescents, creating a new public space for the city’s Queen’s quarter which visitors and residents can enjoy once more.

“The properties will be finished to a very high standard and will appeal to people of all walks of life who may want a regular home-from-home option that feels more personal than a hotel, but still offers the luxury amenities of one.”

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