Belfast Stories: Plans Unveiled to Turn Listed Bank of Ireland Building into a Catalyst for Tourism

Artist's impression of the development of Belfast Stories
Artist’s impression of the development of Belfast Stories

The listed Bank of Ireland building on Royal Avenue has been acquired by Belfast City Council along with the surrounding 4,000 square meter site and will be transformed into a £ 100million Belfast Stories development, which is slated to open in 2028.

The art deco building, a tribute to New York’s Empire State Building, was completed in 1931.

Known to locals as the “White Bank”, it closed in 2005.

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The Mayor of Belfast Kate Nicholl (center) with Suzanne Wylie, Managing Director of Belfast City Council and Richard Williams, Managing Director of NI Screen, in the Bank of Ireland building on Royal Avenue, Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

In 2012, the building was, for a short time, taken over by squatters from the Occupy Belfast movement.

The new tourist attraction at the old Bank of Ireland building is one of seven regeneration projects that will tell the stories of Belfast and its people.

It will also include a new state-of-the-art multi-screen cultural cinema center and public spaces for events and ongoing programming.

The announcement follows the signing of the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) earlier this week.

Belfast Mayor Kate Nicholl said: “This announcement marks an important moment in our progress as a city and in the journey we have taken in recent years to tell Belfast’s story on the world stage.

“It is an investment, not just in monetary terms, but in our people and generations to come, and a significant investment in our heritage and in our future.”

Another ambition of the project is to be a sustainable, zero carbon and climate resilient model for the city and the region.

Options for renewable energy solutions, including the feasibility of geothermal energy sources, are currently being explored.

An urban park on the green roof is also being considered as part of the first project plans offering panoramic views of the city.

Suzanne Wylie, CEO of Belfast City Council and Chair of the BRCD Board of Directors, said: “This is a transformative project, not only for our city center, but for the entire region.

“The positive impact of completing Belfast Stories development will be felt for many years to come, with the seeds sown now as we plan to open the site in 2028.

Richard Williams, CEO of NI Screen, said, “We have a wonderful opportunity to research and organize our city’s stories for new audiences, and to ensure that they are preserved for future generations.

“Today’s stories are, after all, what legends are made of, and it’s time we celebrated Belfast for all of its intricacies and proud of this city we call home.

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