5 – 33 Hill Street comprises two interconnected buildings. 5 – 23 Hill Street was built 1896 – 1897 at a cost of £1,718. It was leased to Old Bushmills Distillery Co. Ltd by a Captain Samuel B. Hamilton from Co. Wexford. Bushmills continued to occupy the building until 1959. The warehouse is a two-storey stucco building with arcaded ground floor windows and former carriageway entrances. The building lay vacant until it was refurbished and extended in 1990. The four-storey brick and glazed extension (25 – 33) was designed by Barrie Todd Architects. The Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch of DoE occupied the original whiskey warehouse, and modern extension, from July 1990 until summer 2015. The former whiskey warehouse at 5 – 23 Hill Street was grade B listed in January 1982 (HB26/50/156).
In April 2015 the two interconnected buildings (5 – 23 and 23 – 25 Hill Street) were placed on the market by Colliers, seeking offers in the region of £1.75m. The sale includes 5 – 23 Hill Street (two storey building – approx. 7,183 ft2), 25 – 33 Hill Street (four storey building – approx. 7,977 ft2), 21 Gordon Street (three storey building – approx.5,489 ft2) and a yard comprising 14 parking spaces. The building was acquired late 2015 by Commercial Court Inns Ltd.
A number of planning applications were submitted by Commercial Court Inns Ltd and Barrie Todd Architect in July 2016:
– LA04/2016/1493/F – Change of use of nos. 5-23 Hill Street from office to restaurant and alterations to facade.
– LA04/2016/1376/F – Change of use of 21a Gordon Street (rear of 5-23 Hill Street) from office to arts and crafts workshop and retail unit; including alterations to the elevations.
– LA04/2016/1406/F – Change of use of 25-33 Hill Street; ground and first floor from office to bar (amalgamation with adjacent Harp Bar), change of use of second floor from office to art gallery and change of use of third floor from offices to apartment.
All three applications were approved between November 2016 – February 2017.
Merex Construction commenced work in April 2017 with phased completion of the project planned for 2018.
The Irish News reported in December 2017 that the proposed art gallery, due to open in 2018, will be named the Orpheus Ball Room and will include items reclaimed from the original Orpheus Ball Room at York Street.
A further report by the Irish News in May 2018 provided more detail about the £3.5m development. The completed complex will include a micro-brewery and a cookery school by Niall McKenna. The scheme will also include the a new connection between Hill Street and Gordon Street – Half Bap Lane. The new link will comprise whinstone sets and paving slabs with catenary lighting suspended above. A floodlit sculpture will be installed as part of Half Bap Lane.