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I keep hoping that the new owners of Castle Court will realise it needs a new facade if it wants to compete with Victoria Square. I don't really care what it looks like on the inside but if it was able to restore some sort of Victorian frontage onto Royal Avenue, probably with large windows for the department store it would go a long way to restoring its fortunes.
 

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Castlecourt has to go completely. It ruined most of one side of Royal Avenue, and completely destroyed Smithfield. It served a purpose in its day, and now it's time is up.

It's not just its dated Royal Avenue frontage, it serves as a gigantic wall severing the western side of the city centre, and the massive carpark has wrecked entire streets to allow traffic to enter and exit the parking area.

Given that retail is being destroyed by this pandemic, and by everybody ordering off Amazon, god knows what could replace it. A restored Royal Avenue and behind it a green space, surrounded by beautiful buildings, would be nice. Perhaps one of these could contain the cultural attraction thing we were told was going in behind the Bank of Ireland building, until that idea was seemingly replaced by yet more generic modern identikit crap featuring office space, a starbucks and tiny over priced apartments.
 

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Castle Court is terrible, both indoors and out. It probably wasn't terrible when it was built [setting to one side what was lost] but... it's as dated as flares and sheepskin coats. It's not alone, there are malls all over the UK which feel similar, but my experience of Castle Court is that it has much more of a feeling of 'life support' with a lot of second division tenants [no disrespect to them, perhaps better to say non 'premier league'] than some others.

The feel [and this is perhaps through the lens of someone who works a lot in NI but is not resident - rather than gradual change you get contrasts - this was wasn't like that 6 weeks ago] is that a lot of the retail tenants that you might ordinarily see in a mall like CC are in fact in the surrounding pedestrianised streets. The overall sense of doom in the place is also probably exacerbated by the contrast with really impressive Victoria Sq.
 

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To be fair to Castle Court, the centre has a high occupancy rate and high footfall.
The new owners have done a fantastic job of recruiting new tenants, including Jack & Jones, O'Neills, BPerfect and local chains like SD Kells. Far from being on life support.
 

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I guess I could be being unfair, just such a contrast to Victoria Sq [also i tend to see snapshots rather than a continuum [if that makes sense]
 

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Greeves’ mill chimney 1923 being painted by steeple jacks. At 220 feet it was the tallest chimney in Ireland.

I’m assuming the chimney has been demolished? Does anyone know when? It would be good for the Wikipedia page.
 

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Wonder what happened to the dome bit in the middle of Scottish Provident building? So used to seeing the building as it is today, it almost looks a bit wrong! Ran out of money maybe?

On a related note, can we get access to a time machine and bring these guys into the present and prepare a few high quality proposals for Belfast. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #72 (Edited)
Wonder what happened to the dome bit in the middle of Scottish Provident building? So used to seeing the building as it is today, it almost looks a bit wrong! Ran out of money maybe?

On a related note, can we get access to a time machine and bring these guys into the present and prepare a few high quality proposals for Belfast. Thanks!
Seems they didn't build the central dome on Scottish Provident because they thought it would overshadow the city hall. Kind of that the dome of a Civic governance building (i.e. city hall) should be the tallest and not that of banking or commerce.

See pics below from 'Architects of Ulster: Young & MacKenzie – A Transformational Provincial Practice 1850-1960'

A time machine would be nice, but we've got all the old architectural plans. Could rebuild some of the lost gems. (see bottom pic)


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Seems they didn't build the central dome on Scottish Provident because they thought it would overshadow the city hall. Kind of that the dome of a Civic governance building (i.e. city hall) should be the tallest and not that of banking or commerce.

See pics below from 'Architects of Ulster: Young & MacKenzie – A Transformational Provincial Practice 1850-1960'

View attachment 775614
View attachment 775618
Yeah that was common planning restrictions in those days. A royal palace, church or government building had to be tallest or grandest and couldn’t be surpassed by a commercial building.
Copenhagen still has those rules today with the royal palace and city hall being the tallest buildings.
Real shame though that design was beautiful.
 

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Discussion Starter #74
Lost Buildings

1885 – Nos 27-31 Wellington Place


Demolished in the 1980s. Occupied by a series of restaurants since the 1930s including the well-known and popular Merrythought Café & Restaurant.

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Merrythought Cafe. (No. 31), and adjoining premises. 21 February 1931.



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44 Wellington Place, Google street view May 2019
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1905 – Crane’s Buildings, Wellington Place, Belfast


Constructed on the corner Wellington Place and Fountain Street, known as Crane’s Building after the piano warehouse contained within. Sculptural ornament by J. Edgar Winter. Demolished in the early 1960s, along with many other buildings of Wellington Place.

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View from City hall entrance. Located beside Linen hall library.

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17 Wellington Place, Google street view May 2019
 

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The destruction of Royal Avenue is a travesty that should stain planners for generations. It’s just so unfortunate it happened when the city was crying out for investment of any kind. I don’t believe it would happen now, despite some recent examples of disgraceful demolition.
 

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Its desperate, I understand the econimics, and it working getting people back downtown. But with Debanhams and the rest of Arcadia gone, and likely no significant bricks and mortar retail revival, I wonder what the future of CastleCourt will be.
 

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The destruction of Royal Avenue is a travesty that should stain planners for generations. It’s just so unfortunate it happened when the city was crying out for investment of any kind. I don’t believe it would happen now, despite some recent examples of disgraceful demolition.
There was a good piece on Sunday Sequence on Radio Ulster on Sunday (yeah, I know!) about innovative ways to re-think the city centre in light of the pandemic and decline of high street retail.

I really hope that the city council and planners are working towards a shift towards the European model, whereby there is an emphasis on living space in city centres, with associated infrastructure and amenities, rather than zoning it entirely for retail like we have. No better example than Belfast to address this.

It starts at 34:50, but the key bit for me is at 44:51: Sunday Sequence - 07/02/2021 - BBC Sounds
 
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