Derry businessman Garvan O'Doherty plans £80m International Maritime & Emigration Museum and £10m St. Columb's Hall redevelopment at heart of new Derry creative skills quarter (CS/Q)

A new £80m maritime attraction at Fort George and a creative quarter at St. Columb’s Hall have been pitched as economic game changers.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 5:02 pm

The Garvan O’Doherty Group has proposed an £80m International Maritime & Emigration Museum (IMEM) as part of the overall £150m to £200m mixed-use development planned at Fort George.

A new creative skills quarter (CS/Q) in the city centre, meanwhile, will be centred on a £10m redevelopment at St. Columb’s Hall that it’s hoped could be completed by 2024.

In a presentation to the Council Business & Culture Committee Garvan O’Doherty and Ann-Marie Gallagher, GODG Business Development Director, said they needed support from local and central government to make the projects become a reality.

St. Columb's Hall.
St. Columb's Hall.

Mr. O’Doherty said the local “economy was in trouble” and that ambition and vision were needed to turn it around.

He said Derry needed to develop projects of international scale in order to transform the city’s fortunes.

Private and public investment will be required to realise these ambitions, he said.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ Mr. O’Doherty said: “We need to bang the door with international quality projects to get the money for this and we want to make this city the true city it can be.

“We have to provide hope and opportunity for our young people. We have to provide the facilities to allow the tourists to come and spend their money here to allow for a broad base in economic numbers and we have to fire up the economy. I see this project as one of a number of kick-starters that can take Derry on to the next level.”

Ms. Gallagher said: “GODG is really determined in bringing forward a number of catalyst projects for the city, the first one being the CS/Q as part of the St. Columb’s Hall development.

“Our plan there is really to reawaken St. Columb’s Hall and bring back into life a really important architectural and cultural asset to the city and re-open it again as an iconic live music venue to reflect all the history, the seven generations of local people, who have helped to support and bring forward that building. We really want to revive it and bring it back into use again.

“The second project we’re looking at is IMEM at Fort George. Our idea there is to tell our story and to create an iconic tourism destination that will really bring tourists in here and really be the fourth tourism pillar in the north of Ireland.

“It will follow in the footsteps of Titanic, the Giant’s Causeway and the Wild Atlantic Way in terms of bringing in visitors from across the world.”

Mr. O’Doherty said a close partnership between the public sector and the private sector will be needed if the projects are to be realised.

“We are heavily invested obviously in the private sector.

“For further significant tens of millions of investment we need to have the economy stronger and also for our young people coming forward we just can’t simply have them leave in the numbers that they leave.

“We must have opportunities that they either return or we can anchor them here and they can enjoy the city that is theirs at the end of the day,” he said.