27/02/2009

Belfast's Bumper £500m Development Year

This year has been described as a momentous period for Belfast with ₤500m worth of developments unveiled, including a number of landmark buildings opening their doors to the public again following extensive refurbishments.

Today, the Ulster Hall will reopen to audiences, marking the start of a "renaissance" for Belfast, as well as a number of new developments across the city.

With Belfast City Hall due to re-open in August, the comprehensive list includes Queen's University's new Sir Anthony O'Reilly Library, St Malachy's Church, Ulster Museum and Saint Anne's Square, as well as a number of new commercial, hotel and residential developments planned for the city.

Speaking at the City Hall, the Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Hartley, said: "2009 will be Belfast's year - it will be a year like no other in the city's history. For against a backdrop of economic downturn and job loss, this is the time for our city to claim solutions and turn its back on despair.

"This is the year when we will showcase £500m worth of investment in Belfast. This investment has gone into maintaining and promoting the rich cultural heritage of our city through the refurbishing of its great iconic buildings like the Ulster Hall, City Hall and the Ulster Museum.
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"We must not stand back and let the moment pass. This is our golden opportunity to proclaim that this is Belfast's time, its moment and we want to share it with everyone," added the Lord Mayor.

The £8.5m Ulster Hall scheme included refitting and redecorating the main auditorium, the restoration of the original metal balcony balustrade and chandelier, new roof and floors and a moveable stage extension.

Belfast City Hall is due to re-open in August after being temporarily closed since October 2007. Major renovations to the building will include replacing heating, mechanical and electrical systems, asbestos removal, drainage improvements, re-roofing and installing computer network systems.

St Malachy's Church in Alfred Street will re-open at the end of March after being restored to its former glory following a £3.5m investment. The Ulster Museum will also re-open to the public later this year.

Other major investments for the city are The Boat development at Custom House Square in July, Saint Anne's Square in September and the opening of M1/Westlink in March.

In 2010, the Belfast Sewers Project which will improve water quality in both the River Lagan and Blackwater River is due to be completed as is work on the Obel Tower – Northern Ireland's tallest building.

The new Lyric Theatre is due to open in 2010 and work will continue on the Titanic Signature Project, which aims to establish the Titanic Quarter as a major leisure and tourism destination.

(PR/JM)

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