A new £100 million tourism attraction has been announced for the city of Belfast.
Located in the heart of the northern city, the multi-million project aims to tell the stories of the city and its people.
As part of the development, the listed Art Deco former Bank of Ireland building on Royal Avenue will be restored to house elements of the attraction.
The building was acquired by Belfast City Council with the surrounding 4,000sq/m site also set to be developed for an interactive visitor experience.
A state-of-the-art cultural film centre dedicated to showcasing the “best visual storytelling” from Northern Ireland and around the wider world is included in current plans.
In a move towards sustainable developments, a rooftop urban park providing sweeping sights of the city is being considered.
Belfast City Council announced that renewable energy solutions, such as geothermal energy sources, are currently being explored in relation to these projects,
Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Kate Nicholl said the announcement represented a “significant moment” for the city.
“Belfast Stories will reflect the unique spirit of our city through a variety of media and immersive experiences. It will drive culture-led regeneration across the city, giving us the opportunity to put the people of Belfast and their stories at its heart,” she said in a statement.
“It’s an investment, not just in monetary terms, but in our people and the generations to come, and an important investment in our heritage and in our future. This is a hugely positive news story for the city and will reap benefits not just for our tourism sector, but in the creation of new jobs and regenerating communities.”
She said that this project will not just zero in on the city centre but also “connect to the development of neighbourhood tourism”.
This is the flagship project of the “once-in-a-generation” Belfast Region City Deal (BCRD) signed earlier this month and is one of the deal’s seven planned tourist attractions.
Although first announced in 2019, its terms were formally signed off earlier this month.
All in all, 20 ambitious projects have been proposed with the BCRD aiming to promote growth in sectors such as life and health sciences, digital and creative industries and advanced manufacturing.
Costing £1 billion in total, the deal also focuses on infrastructure developments.
A lofty sum of £300 million has been committed to five sectors of excellence across the region.
NEW: Today I signed the Head of Terms on the Belfast Region City Deal – this £1billion joint investment will help level up the whole of Northern Ireland, ensuring businesses have the tools they need to be at the forefront of industries of the future. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/sWm42hSSFh
— Brandon Lewis (@BrandonLewis) December 15, 2021
With both the Stormont and UK governments pledging £350million each, it is estimated that the deal will reel in up to 20,000 jobs over the next 10 to 15 years.
Six councils with proposed projects and universities are also contributing funds.
Other schemes proposed in the deal include a £55 million region innovation fund for Belfast, which is hoped will stimulate innovation in artificial intelligence and data, health and wellbeing and sustainability and resilience — which have been dubbed the three Grand Challenges.
Regeneration projects have also been put forward for surrounding areas of Belfast, including Newry, Hillsborough, Bangor seafront and Carrickfergus.