Vertigo Group to double-down on Royal Avenue hospitality investment

Gareth Murphy of the Vertigo Group on Belfast' Royal Avenue.

THE firm behind the We Are Vertigo leisure business has announced plans to regenerate part of Belfast’s Royal Avenue.

Gareth Murphy’s Vertigo Group opened the Haymarket in the former Hudson bar site in June 2021.

Initially a leaseholder, the company has now acquired the property that links Royal Avenue with Gresham Street.

Vertigo has said it will invest another £1.5 million to further redevelop the site into a hospitality complex that will include bars, restaurants and nightlife spots.

The company said the many of the units have lain vacant for several years.

It’s the latest boost for the Royal Avenue following Belfast City Council's City Deal-backed plans to redevelop the landmark former Bank of Ireland building into the £100m Belfast Stories tourism attraction.

More recently, CastleCourt owner Wirefox received the planning go-ahead to develop the former Debenhams unit into a new luxury cinema and leisure complex facing onto Royal Avenue.

Gareth Murphy said his company will double down on the £1.5m it has already injected into the Haymarket venture, with 50 new jobs being created.

“The plans we have for the rejuvenation of the Royal Avenue and Gresham Street site are really exciting and breathe life into an area of the city which has long been neglected,” he said.

“Following the success of Haymarket, we plan to create a dining and nightlife hotspot with several restaurant and bar areas within the site catering to a variety of different customers.

“Through the project we hope to attract footfall to the Smithfield and Union area and to attract more investment into expanding the city’s night-time economy.”

The area has already been given a substantial footfall boost by Ulster University’s new York Street campus and the many new student accommodation schemes developed as a result.

There is also planning approval in place for a major a multi-million-pound office development next to Smithfield Market.

Mr Murphy said: “Our commitment to the development of Belfast as a leisure and tourist destination is at the heart of our organisation and we are thrilled to be rejuvenating such an iconic area.

“We have taken care to ensure that the regeneration plans maintain the integrity and celebrate the history of the site.

“This city is full of stunning architecture and a rich history, and as part of our plans we have included tributes to the area’s past to preserve and honour that history.”

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