Victoria Square is a £400m, 800,000ft² mixed-use scheme comprising retail, leisure and residential over two levels of basement parking; designed by Building Design Partnership and T+T Design for Multi Corporation.
Initial development options were explored in 1998, followed by the release of a concept design in 1999. Multi Corporation submitted a planning application in 2001 and received planning permission in 2003. Multi entered into a development agreement with the Department for Social Development in October 2003 and vested land transferred to DSD was subsequently transferred to Multi Corporation in 2004.
Site clearance commenced across the 1.8 hectare site in April 2004 and on 21st November 2004 the 19-storey Churchill House office building was demolished using approximately 200lb of explosives (the building was initially included within early scheme proposals as a potential hotel).
Work commenced on the excavation and removal of 250,000m³ of material to form the basement car parking in October 2004. Basement construction was completed by December 2006 and construction of the superstructure commenced in March 2006.
The construction work involved the creation of covered streets, on multi levels connecting to existing city centre streets and all converging on the central square under a glass dome. The central glass dome and the two glazed roof structures covering the main shopping areas were constructed by Space Decks Systems Ltd through a £4m sub-contract. Work on the central glass dome began in January 2007 and was completed in June 2007 with an official topping out ceremony for the scheme. The dome measures 35m in diameter and 45m in height.
As completion neared at the beginning of 2008 the Jaffe Fountain was relocated from Botanic Gardens to Victoria Square. The fountain was constructed in 1874 by George Smith & Company at the Sun Foundry in Glasgow to honour linen merchant Daniel Joseph Jaffé. It was commissioned by Mr Jaffé’s sons – one of whom was Sir Otto Jaffé, a Lord Mayor of Belfast. The fountain was initially located in Victoria Square before being relocated to Botanic Gardens in 1933. Eura Conservation carried out the restoration work on the structure.
Following a 46 month construction programme Victoria Square officially opened on 6th March 2008. Attending the opening event were the First Minister Dr Paisley, the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness and the Minister for Social Development Margaret Ritchie. Also in attendance were Multi Corporation’s Chairman Hans van Veggel, Multi Development UK’s Managing Director Paul Sargent, Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Cllr Jim Rodgers, House of Fraser’s Chief Executive, John King.
The development was completed in phases during 2008; the majority of retail units were completed and opened on 6th March 2008, including the four-storey 200,000ft² House of Fraser which anchors the development. The remaining restaurant units and the 8-screen Odeon cinema opened in July 2008.
The completed mixed-use scheme comprises retail (98no. units), restaurants, cinema, residential (106no. apartments) and basement car-parking.