The Grand Central Hotel is a 22 storey hotel building comprising 304no. bedrooms, restaurant, bar, conferencing facilities and retail unit. The hotel was developed by Hastings Hotel Group between 2016 – 2018.
The hotel makes use of the concrete frame of the former Windsor House office building. Windsor House was a 22 storey (80m / 262ft) building clad in white mosaic panels and set over a two-storey black marble podium comprising 2no. retail units and entrance lobby. The building comprised over 120,000ft2 of office accommodation and 96no. car-parking spaces. Windsor House was designed by Messrs. Dennis, McIntyre & Devon for Ulster Properties Ltd and was built by McLaughlin & Harvey between 1974 – 1976.
Brunswick Property Holdings acquired Windsor House and in 2005 submitted a planning application (Z/2005/2027/F) proposing to over-clad the existing facade, construct new roof top plant and extend the 2 storey podium at Bedford Street (Architect: Halliday Fraser Munro). Planning was granted for the redevelopment proposal in 2006 but work did not proceed.
Lauderdale Properties purchased Windsor House for £30m during late 2006. A joint venture between Dublin developer Mr R. Grehan and Cavan based P. Elliott Construction intended to convert the building into apartments. Mr Grehen was declared bankrupt in December 2011 and P. Elliott was placed into receivership in May 2011 (its share of Windsor House was held by a company called Dorwins Investments). In February 2012 Lauderdale Properties (the company which ultimately owns Windsor House) was placed into administration and control of the building passed to NAMA.
The building was placed on the market by CBRE in June 2014 with offers invited in excess of £5m. The agents brochure suggested a number of redevelopment options, including: refurbishment for office accommodation, conversion to hotel, residential or student accommodation. When bidding closed in September 2014 there were 10 offers, with several over £5m.
Hastings Hotel Group acquired Windsor House during spring 2015 for £6.5m. Smith & Williamson, the Administrator, was represented by CBRE and Hastings Hotel Group represented by McConnell Chartered Surveyors. McConnells managed Windsor House since its construction in 1974.
Hastings Hotel Group and WDR & RT Taggart Architects submitted a planning application (LA04/2015/0545/F) in June 2015 proposing refurbishment, part demolition and rebuild, extension and change of use of Windsor House for hotel (200 bedrooms) with associated restaurant and bar facilities (on ground to 15th floor) and 18 serviced hotel apartments on 16 & 17th floor; creation of new retail unit on ground floor overlooking Franklin Street; retention and refurbishment and extension of office use (25,000 ft2) on upper floors (18th to 22nd floor).
The name of the proposed new hotel within Windsor House was revealed in June 2015 as “Belfast Grand Central Hotel” – referencing the former Grand Central Hotel at Royal Avenue.
Eastwood Demolition undertook asbestos strip out works during December 2015 – April 2016.
Graham Construction were appointed main contractor and commenced on site in July 2016.
Following a “re-evaluation of the company’s investment and business strategy” Hastings Hotel Group appointed RPP Architects to revise the proposed scheme. A revised planning application (LA04/2017/0283/F) was submitted in January 2017 proposing to refurbishment, extension and change of use of the former Windsor House to a 304no. bedroom hotel with restaurant and bar at ground and 22nd floor, conferencing facilities and a retail unit at Franklin Street. The application was approved in July 2017.
The £53m Grand Central Hotel is scheduled to open in phases from June 2018.