Ebrington Plaza on course to open in 2022
Work on a new office complex which it is hoped will provide a platform for job creation in Derry is on schedule to open in early 2022, the Executive Office has confirmed.
Government officials told the Journal that while progress on some projects across Derry’s largest regeneration site has been impacted by to the pandemic, work on numerous major projects is continuing.
Work is continuing at the Ebrington Plaza office development site. The project is being undertaken by Heron Property Ltd, and the glass-fronted structure is now starting to take shape.
The offices above the existing underground car park will provide 62,500 sq² gross of office space and is expected to open in March 2022. The Executive Office said: “It has the potential to accommodate up to 400 staff. Construction works started in December 2019 but works ceased temporarily in March due to Covid 19. Works restarted in July 2020 and are on programme.”
The office complex at the former army base was announced by late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness back in March 2016. Mr McGuinness said at the time that this flagship project was “part of a drive to attract investment to the north west”.
However construction work at a massive new 4-star hotel complex nearby has stalled, but only temporarily. The hotel will incorporate the iconic central tower clock building. The new report states: “Ebrington Leisure Holdings has achieved planning permission to develop this group of buildings into a 4-star, 152 bed resort hotel with spa and leisure facilities in a two-phased development. Construction was planned to start in May 2020. However construction was delayed due to both the health and economic implications of Covid 19. Works are now planned to start in summer 2021.”
In terms of infrastructure, a new car park and access road off Limavady Road leading into the 26 acre Ebrington site was completed last November, while water supply upgrade works both inside and outside the site have also finished and will be imminently adopted by NI Water. Meanwhile foul and storm water upgrade works are now underway.
As of this month, the buildings occupied on site include the Enterprise North West small-medium enterprises hub, the Creative Industries Hub, The Stables, which is currently is operating a take away coffee/food service only due to restrictions, and the Walled City Brewery, which is similarly operating a coffee take away service only at the moment.
Glen Caring are provide community caring/ respite services in Building 62, while a fit-out of the striking former Cunningham building has just been completed by the Kevin Watson Group (KWG), who have taken ownership of the building to accommodate its expanding business. Staff numbers occupying the building will increase to 35 when Covid restrictions are lifted. Atelier Hair and Urban 3D have taken over the former boys and girls school houses after restoration and fit-out works were completed in July 2020. Action for Children meanwhile moved into Building 83 in November 2020, and employs 39 staff there after securing a 10-year lease from Ebrington Holdings Limited, who had carried out extensive renovation work. The report states that this particular development “completes the first of seven phases of redevelopment planned by Ebrington Holdings Limited /The Executive Office for the land and buildings located on the eastern half of the Ebrington site.”
A new Café/Bike Hire business is now expected top open at Ebrington in April 2021, while a preferred tenant has sought planning permission to develop Building 40 into a licensed restaurant and bar, with Planning and Listing Building Consent approvals expected within weeks. A new convenience store run by an established retailer inside Building 102 is due to open in May 2021.
Long term tenants have also been secured for a number of other properties, including for the Admiral’s/ Barrack Master’s House and walled garden within the Star Fort. Conservation and preservation works to this building are ongoing but details “remain commercial in confidence”.
Meanwhile Derry & Strabane Council is still progressing with plans for an £11m Maritime Museum Project inside the former hospital complex site off Ebrington Square, with a business case for the development prepared.
The Executive Office also confirmed that a decision on whether to grant planning approval for a proposed residential project at Ebrington is expected in March 2022.