Proposed Omagh town centre hotel development will have local people at heart

William Smith

Reporter:

William Smith

Email:

william.smith@tyronecon.co.uk

IT IS hoped that an exciting new hotel development in the heart of the town will present "a real flavour of Omagh and Tyrone".

This is the ambition of developer James McCallan, whom along with business partner, Anthony Marley, has lodged ambitious proposals to transform the historic bank premises at High Street, Omagh into a hotel complete with restaurant whiskey bar, and a rooftop 'health and wellbeing' area.

Aptly named 'The Foundry', the new 22-room hotel could see the welcome transformation the 150-year-old building that has sat vacant since 1998, while bringing much-needed jobs to the local area.

It is estimated that between 50 to 55 people will be employed during the construction phase, and around 35 permanent members of hotel staff will be employed upon completion.

A decision on planning is expected to be made within the next few weeks. The hotel is being designed by ADP Architects.

James McCallan, of Carrickmore-based Ballymore Services, said he is keen to promote the local area as much as possible through the new development.

"Omagh is our county town and we should all be proud of it," he explained. "This beautiful building has pretty much been sitting vacant since 1998, which I always thought was a huge shame. Even as a child at secondary school, I used to walk past and think it was a beautiful building.

"So, when it came on market five years ago, myself and business partner, Anthony Marley, jumped at the opportunity to secure it."

As a Grade B listed building, the local developers have been mindful to respect the historic significance of the premises - and as such, they have been working closely with the Historic Environment Division to ensure the building is preserved and enhanced.

Mr McCallan continued: "It is a grade B listed building, and was one of first purpose-built banks in Omagh. We want to put our best foot forward to construct something that can be really good for people of Omagh and the surrounding areas.

‘Jobs’

"Not only are we trying to build something the whole town can be proud of, we are also aiming to create local jobs for local people. Our estimations show that between 50 to 55 people will be employed during the construction phase, and around 35 staff employed when the hotel is opened. We want the hotel to be a true representation of Omagh and Tyrone.

"In recent years there has been a lot of tourism in the area thanks to the Ulster American Folk Park and Gortin Glen. Naturally, those people are looking for somewhere to stay in the town centre to see what Omagh has to offer. Wouldn't it be great if this was somewhere made up totally of local staff, so they get a true flavour of Omagh and Co Tyrone?"

The project was originally proposed in early 2020, but was subsequently delayed due to the pandemic. However, according to Mr McCallan, this allowed both himself and Mr Marley to re-evaluate the hotel's offerings to better suit the ever-changing needs of customers.

He explained: "Distruptions due to Covid-19 allowed us to sit down and rethink the plans and ideas for the hotel, and as a result we have designed a large outdoor dining area for the restaurant and whiskey bar. This is will be open air ground floor area, which will be semi and fully covered.

"We also realised that the view at the top of the building provides an unrivalled panoramic view of the town, looking out over the Hospital Road, Cookstown Road, and Gortin Road. It is stunning, so we came up with the proposal of a rooftop health and wellbeing area, complete with private hot tub areas with private dining. We hope that this will add something different to the visitor experience."

Mr McCallon concluded: "The development is very exciting, and ever since we put it in application a few weeks ago we have received unbelievable support from the local community. People are delighted to see this come to fruition, and we feel it is something that can serve Omagh, and do nothing but good for the town itself."

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