LONG-DERELICT land in Bangor town centre will be transformed into a £3m apartment building – thanks to cash from Hong Kong.
Years ago the corner of Dufferin Avenue and Railwayview Street housed Bangor’s old dole office, but before long it will be home to a host of up and coming twentysomething professionals.
That’s thanks to local company Urban Property Solutions Ltd, who are building a new housing development on the site – 15 years after it was occupied.
The firm plans on renting the apartments out once construction work finishes in early 2016, but as managing director Michael Dunlop told the Spectator last week Urban Property Solutions was only able to go ahead with the apartment plan after snapping up cash from a Bangor ex-pat who had made a fortune in Hong Kong.
“This scheme has been in the pipeline for a while, but since the economic crash and subsequent housing collapse banks in Northern Ireland have been much less willing to support local development,” he said.
“In fact some of the banks we approached basically were not even willing to entertain looking at the proposed. But we had this site and went to an ex-pat, a called Richard Johnston, who with his wife invested close to £3m to get this off the ground.
“He’s a maths genius who made his fortune in financial services, he has property investments over the world but this is his first in Northern Ireland. Without that long distance support nothing would be happening, so of course we’re delighted he wanted to invest his money in his home town.”
The forthcoming apartment building will be called Catherine Place, which was the original name for the downhill stretch of Dufferin Avenue in the 19th Century.
The three-storey building will feature 27 apartments plus underground car parking, and as Michael Dunlop explained the location has been picked as it’s perfect for young professionals who want easy access to the train station for commuting but also the nightlife and shops on offer in Bangor town centre.
“The people we have in mind are working and looking to make that step away from their parents’ place, but aren’t in the market to buy just yet,” he said.
“That’s one of the reasons we will be renting these apartments out rather than selling them, which is maybe unusual in the market at the moment but we feel that’s the way to go.
“But it’s an ideal location - the train station, shops, cafés, restaurants and bars are all a short walk away, and certainly Bangor town centre is badly in need of residential development.
“We’re looking at solutions for derelict brownfield sites in the area, and we currently have a bid in on another site in fact. We’re still waiting to hear if that bid has been successful, but we’re hoping to have similar apartments on that site.”
The Dufferin Avenue site has been empty since 2001, and was used as an impromptu car park for many years.