Dilapidated historic Belfast police station ‘nearing collapse’ says hotel developer
Andre Graham says that the old Queen Street station in the city centre is unlikely to “last another winter”.
He has plans to turn the building, which was believed to have been abandoned by the PSNI in the middle of the 2000s, into a 74-bedroom hotel.
He had bought the site around three years ago, and is trying to develop it with his company Big Top Productions.
“We want to save the building. I doubt it’ll last another winter,” he said, adding that about 18 months ago someone stole the lead off the building, and that water is getting into it.
Patching it up temporarily with tarpaulin could cost £80,000 he said, but to date about £100,000 has been spent on architect and consultants drawing up plans, and then going back and redrafting them.
One beam holding up a gable wall is now “so deteriorated that it’s in danger of collapsing – and if that goes the whole side gable will collapse and the building would be gone”, he added.
Mr Graham, a native New Zealander who has lived in Northern Ireland since 1998 (having first come to the island a few years earlier as a property manager for Sony), went on to say that he has already reduced the number of planned rooms from what he considered a minimum viable level of 80 to 74.
“This building in 2006 was reported as a building at serious risk – it had deteriorated to such an extent it was borderline whether it could be saved,” he said.
“I’d have thought they’d be willing or wanting to work with a developer quickly to iron out these problems so we can get this building saved.
“For us, from a developer’s point of view, if that building collapsed it’d be an easier situation for us.
“We could just clear the site and build something taller and it’d be financially more viable.
“But we’ve really stuck with this because we feel the building is an important asset for Belfast.”
It is not the only long-running saga surrounding a would-be hotel development in a historic building in Belfast city centre.
The plans for a George Best Hotel, on the corner of Donegall Square North (just behind City Hall) have been in pipeline for years, but have recently foundered.
However, it was reported in late April that much of the renovation work has been done, and there are still hopes for it to open this year.
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