Plans for a major office and retail development to transform a car park at Belfast’s Smithfield Market have been unveiled. 650 construction jobs could be created if the multi-million pound development goes ahead.
A 1.25 acre site between Gresham Street and Winetavern Street has been earmarked for the development, with three new buildings being proposed alongside the refurbishment of the listed Butcher’s Building.
A joint venture by Bywater Properties and Ashmour, around half the 235,000sq ft floor space created will be dedicated for office use, accommodating around 1,500 people. The remaining space will be a combination of workshop, retail and co-working space.
Operating under the working title ‘Building Blocks’, the development would be a major investment in one of the most neglected parts of the city centre.
The developers say their plan includes significant improvements to the public realm space around historic Smithfield.
Ashley Smith of Ashmour said they wanted to make improvements to the public space, whilst preserving the historic character.
“We respect the city’s heritage and culture and we want to preserve Smithfield’s character and the life that’s already there while investing to rejuvenate an area that has suffered from chronic under-investment for many years,”
Theo Michell of Bywater said although the development will seek to promote independent enterprise, the project won’t target major multinationals.
“Smithfield has always been about small, local independent traders. We believe that it is important for the city to retain diversity, locating big businesses alongside small home-grown start-ups, independent traders and artisan makers,” he said.
The development site is close to Royal Avenue and is the latest in a series of projects designed to transform this area of Belfast city centre. The Royal Exchange, a £400m regeneration project, still has the potential to proceed.
Involving the demolition of some existing buildings on Royal Avenue, the project would see the development of new office, retail and leisure space. Developers Castlebrooke Investments claim the regeneration could create up to 6,000 jobs.
In 2016, the Department for Social Development pulled their backing for the £300m Northside scheme for the area between Royal Avenue and Carrick leaving the future of this project hanging in the balance.