AM NV (Amstelland MDC), which specialises in city centre, shopping centre, housing and office development, is to redevelop the Victoria Square district in central Belfast. The contract for this ambitious project, which will provide 75,000 mÃÂ² of retail space and related facilities, was signed by AM and the Department of Social Development on 23 October.
Worth around ÃÂ£300 million (Ã¢âÂ¬430 million), Victoria Square is the largest project in the companyÃ¢â¬â¢s history. AM has already found a buyer for the project, which has been sold to CGI (Commerz Grundbesitz- Investment Gesellschaft mbH). Among the store chains which will have branches in the new centre is the high-end House of Fraser chain.
The area for redevelopment covers 15 hectares. The new Victoria Square will provide 75,000 mÃÂ² of retail space, together with office space, apartments, leisure facilities (including restaurants and a fitness club), and underground parking for 1,000 cars. At its centre is a square and gardens, open to the public 24 hours a day.
Work on the Victoria Square project is scheduled to start at the end of 2003, with completion of the total project planned for 2007. The project will bring a significant number of new jobs: around 3,000 during the construction phase and 3,000 permanent jobs when the centre opens.
Large-scale city-centre renewal
Nico Veldhuis, Managing Director of AM Development International, says Victoria Square will be a major step forward in raising the quality of the cityÃ¢â¬â¢s economic and social development. Ã¢â¬ËThis plan has great significance for Belfast, and we are privileged to have the opportunity to redevelop this zone. Victoria Square is one of the largest multifunctional city-centre regeneration schemes in Europe at this time.Ã¢â¬â¢
Arnold de Haan, Managing Director of CGI, underlines the importance of the project. Ã¢â¬ËVictoria Square is a city-centre scheme which we like a lot. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s a part of Belfast which draws a huge number of shoppers and itÃ¢â¬â¢s an ambitious plan which has the support of the local authorities.Ã¢â¬â¢
The plan was devised by T+T Design, AMÃ¢â¬â¢s in-house design group. The architects are T+T Design and BDP in Belfast. With its large central dome reminiscent of some of the cityÃ¢â¬â¢s most attractive existing buildings, not least among them the City Hall, the architecture of Victoria Square will hark back to the 19th century, when it was one of busiest places in Belfast.
The project is centred on two multi-level covered streets linking to a 35m diameter glass dome, which will create one of the largest covered spaces in a mixed-use development project anywhere in Europe. The square beneath the dome will be the focal point, which will give access to all the various functions, from shops and restaurants to offices and parking. Victoria Square was known in the 19th century as Police Square, and before that as Poultry Square.
Victoria Square will be home to many new shops, including branches of several leading European chains, and the House of Fraser department store chain will have one of its largest stores in the UK here (18,500mÃÂ²).
Paul Sargent, Managing Director of AM Development in the UK, believes it is crucial for city centres in general, and Belfast in particular, to broaden their range of offerings. Ã¢â¬ËVictoria Square will rejuvenate the whole of Belfast city centre and make the city centre what it should be: a place to live, work, rest and play. The scheme will tie Laganside, the riverside regeneration project, into the heart of the cityÃ¢â¬â¢s shopping district and make Belfast one of the great cities of Europe.Ã¢â¬â¢
Growth through shopping centre development
The Victoria Square project is part of AM´s strategy of growth through shopping centre and city centre development in Europe. Profit forecasts that AM has made in the current year have included the expected contribution of the Belfast project. AM expects 10Ã¢â¬"15% growth in earnings per share for the full year.
Source: AM NV