Derry North Atlantic (DNA) maritime museum to open in 2024 with plans for second grade A office block at landmark Ebrington site

The long-awaited maritime museum at Ebrington could open to the public in three years, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill has said.

The flagship project received fresh impetus with the signing of Heads of Terms for the £250m Derry City Deal.

Twelve million pounds have been set aside for the Derry North Atlantic (DNA) museum which will be located in the old hospital building in Ebrington which is on the left-hand side as you walk up from the Peace Brige to St. Columb’s Park.

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It was originally planned the museum would be completed in time for ‘Maritime City’ in 2016. This didn’t happen. But there is now real hope that after the City Deal development the museum and archive will welcome its first visitors in 2024.

An artist's impression of how the Maritime Museum will look when completed.

“A business case to develop a maritime museum on Ebrington is being progressed by Derry City & Strabane District Council. Subject to approvals and budget, it is hoped that the council museum will open in 2024,” Ms. O’Neill told the Assembly this week in reply to a query from Foyle MLA Martina Anderson.

The Deputy First Minister said works on the proposed hotel at the Clock Tower are on schedule to commence in the summer and that the construction of the grade A office building on the enabling platform above the Ebrington car park is well under way and due to be completed in March 2022. She further revealed that there are plans for a second grade A office building on the platform should there to be the demand for one.

“As part of the planning approval for the current grade A office accommodation, permission has been granted for a second office building on the same enabling platform above the underground car park. There is, therefore, scope for a further development of that nature, should the market support it.

“Given the high level of interest for investment on site following previous marketing exercises, we are making plans to dispose of the car park and remaining land as a development opportunity.

“That is expected to be via a marketing exercise in line with the well-established process used for the disposals of other land and buildings on site. We are keen to bring that to the market as soon as possible, and work is already well under way in preparation. We anticipate that the development opportunity will be publicised and, hopefully, formal expressions of interest sought by early April,” said the minister.

After receiving the update Ms. Anderson told the ‘Journal’: “With work expected to complete on the first grade A office building by next March, permission has now been granted for a second block with the Executive Office hoping to seek expressions of interest in the very near future. Taken together, these office blocks provide the high spec office accommodation this city needs and have the potential to create hundreds of jobs.

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“It has also been confirmed that all existing buildings on the site now have a lease or a developer identified, construction on the new hotel is scheduled to begin in the summer while the ground-breaking DNA museum is being progressed to open in 2024.

“This is superb progress and tangible results can be seen in the fact that three new businesses opened at Ebrington in 2020 with more scheduled.”

Speaking in the Assembly this week Ms. O’Neill said: “We have made significant progress since the Executive Office took direct responsibility for the regeneration of the site in April 2016. All buildings on site now have a lease agreement for lease or preferred developer identified.”

Site works and environmental improvements have encouraged investors to set up shop, she said.

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“Those works have helped to attract private-sector investment to the site, with three businesses opened in 2020 and more scheduled to open when the tenant fit-out works are completed,” she said.

Once the TEO completes its development commitments it hopes to transfer the Ebrington site under the local control of Derry City and Strabane District Council which is leading the DNA project.