Plans to invest £45m in a portfolio of major developments including new and existing hotels in Derry have been revealed by the Garvan O’Doherty Group.
Mr. O’Doherty exclusively confirmed to the ‘Journal’ last night that his group was gearing up to undertake major projects which include the expansion of the Da Vinci’s complex, a new hotel and a new 18-storey riverfront building in the city centre.
The iconic St. Columb’s Hall in the city centre is also expected to undergo a £6m refurbishment, while the company’s Chill Off Licence chain will be redeveloped and expanded.
Meanwhile the group is expected to complete the sale of its Waterfoot Hotel in the Waterside area over the coming days, which forms part of its strategy to concentrate investment in the cityside.
Mr. O’Doherty said: “There were a number of parties interested in purchasing the Waterfoot Hotel, but I felt that those who have purchased it would be best placed to develop the hotel, protect the employee positions and also offer enhanced facilities for customers. They have a good track record, they run the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown, and we look forward to working with them.”
Darren Gilbert from the new owners of the Waterfoot Hotel, Crossroads Properties Limited, told the ‘Journal’ that they are planning an investment of between £500k to £1m to upgrade its suite of bedrooms, as well as the restaurant, bar and function facilities for weddings and other events.
Mr Gilbert said they had a great local management team which will drive this investment project forward, and he also pledged that staff currently working at the hotel would be retained.
Mr. O’Doherty, meanwhile, said that the company intended to be at the helm of an anticipated ‘renaissance’ in Derry through investments which in total will match the £45m already ploughed into the city by the group in years past.
“This is the culmination of four to five years work of the group re-organising. It marks the end of an era and the commencement of a new era of expansion for us,” Mr O’Doherty declared.
“It marks a turning point for the group in that we haven’t been proactive in the marketplace for a number of years, but we now are going to commence a very heavy investment programme in the city.
“We see Derry as having gone through a very painful period and whilst it is disappointing that there is no agreement reached in Stormont, I firmly believe we are on the cusp of Derry’s renaissance, and we intend to be at the forefront of leading the drive forward,”
Mr. O’Doherty said the group had been working with Derry City & Strabane District Council, the Ulster University at Magee and the Permanent Secretaries of Departments and, indeed, the Head of the Civil Service in N. Ireland to help ensure economic development is progressed locally.
“We intend to work even closer with the University to ensure the plans for the expansion of Magee are realised,” he said. “We see Magee, the council and central government as key drivers for the success of the city and to allow us to roll out these investment plans here.”
Commenting on the raft of developments, Mr O’Doherty said Phase One of the work at Da Vinci’s will start work next month with the creation of a new brasserie restaurant together with new conference and banqueting facilities, external works and the rebranding of the entire Da Vinci’s complex.
The group also plans to refurbish its existing hotel rooms and construct an extension with 80 new bedrooms at Da Vinci’s.
He added: “The Chill brand will experience a revamp and all stores will be refurbished, and there will be a major expansion of the retailing operation. We are looking to expand Chill by another five units.
“We will start work in June or July this year on a new 34-bed, four-bar restaurant/hotel in the city centre on Foyle Street/ Shipquay Place. We are just finishing off negotiations with the City Council and government departments, and that will be going out to tender very shortly. That will take 12 months.
“We will then start work in 2019 on St Columb’s Hall on a £6m project. That will involve the restoration of the theatre, and an arts, culture and entertainment centre with an educational dimension.”
“Consultants have now been engaged to undertake a feasibility study for St Columb’s Hall.”
Mr O’Doherty concluded: “We are working with architects on developing a major landmark 18-storey building on Queen’s Quay. This will be the biggest development in the city for many years.”
He said it was anticipated that this project could get under way in 2020.