77 jobs created at new boutique hotels

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77 jobs will created in Derry as work begins on two iconic buildings to turn them into first class boutique hote.s

Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA and Environment Minister Mark H Durkan MLA, have welcomed the start of work.

The former Northern Counties Club on Bishop Street is being converted into a 31 bed hotel, encompassing a restaurant, cookery school and two retail units, while a former bank building in Shipquay Street will be transformed into a 20 bed hotel with a bar and lounge area for both residents and non-residents.

Minister Storey said: “These ambitious and forward thinking projects will regenerate two iconic listed buildings into first class boutique hotels.

“The projects are also a major boost to the local economy providing 77 new jobs for the local hospitality sector, as well as the construction jobs needed to undertake the work.”

The Department has provided funding of £595,000 for the hotel on Bishop Street and an additional £770,000 was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund which is administered by the Walled City Partnership. Department of the Environment’s Northern Ireland Environment Agency has funded £155,000, with the Inner City Buildings Preservation Trust providing the balance.

Environment Minister, Mark Durkan said: “It is fitting that these important projects in Bishop Street and Shipquay Street will now proceed as a result of funding from my Department, DSD and the efforts of the Inner City Trust.

“Derry’s built heritage is a unique attraction for tourists and investors and a source of pride for locals. It is important that we strive together to realise its full potential. My Department is committed to working with a wide range of partners to ensure that this is achieved.”

The Inner City Trust owns the Bishop Street building and is developing it through the Inner City Buildings Preservation Trust, a stand-alone company that aims to restore and reinvigorate vacant buildings within the Walled City.

Helen Quigley, Chief Executive of the Inner City Buildings Preservation Trust, said: “If we are to save and restore the historic and listed buildings in our city then it is essential that all involved work together in a strong partnership towards that common goal.

“Today’s announcement is a clear demonstration of both Departments’ commitment to assisting the Trust in taking the longer view as it restores this building and brings it back into productive use creating much-needed jobs locally and adding significantly to the tourism fabric of our historic walled City”.

The work, which is being carried out by Conway Brothers Construction, is expected to be completed by late summer 2015.

The transformation of the Shipquay Street building was made possible by a £295,000 DSD Urban Development Grant which is only given to projects which could not go ahead without this essential funding. The balance of costs for the £1,562,796 project are being provided by Heritage Lottery funding of £162,225, a DOE grant from the NIEA Listed Building Grant Scheme of £66,320 and by a local construction company, Foyleview Builders, who own the building and are undertaking the work.

Works commenced on the Shipquay Street site in October 2014 and are due be completed by the end of March 2015.