One of Douglas’s historical quayside buildings is about to get a new lease of life after a multi-million pound redevelopment programme.
The Douglas Hotel, built in the mid 18th century, was the home of Ulster merchant Robert Black and, later, the Duke of Athol. The historical building, which became the Douglas Hotel around 1900 and stands above vaulted cellars dating from 1560 had fallen into disrepair in recent years.
It was run as a pub by Heron andBrearley but shut several years ago and became an eyesore.
The company has sunk ‘several million’ pounds into the project, demolishing the old Clarendon Hotel and the Isle of Man Farmers shop but retaining the Douglas, a registered building, and giving it a new steel-framed building.
‘Corporate solutions’ business ICM is to be the first tenant in the 21,000 square foot building. Precise plans for the remaining space are not yet released but estates director Steven Taylor said it was likely to be a retail outlet, bar or cafe.
‘It will be a public space that people will enjoy.’ he said.
‘It will be something to complement the rest of the quay, which we hope to open in mid to late summer.’
Plans for a micro-brewery in the building were thought not commercially viable and have therefore been shelved.
Brett Woods, a consultant on the project and employers’ representative for Heron and Brearley, said because the building was registered as much of the original had to be retained as possible, including a historical staircase and the ancient vaulted cellars. New windows had to match the originals.
‘We wanted an open plan building and there were too many load bearing walls in the old Clarendon for us to open it up,’ he said.
‘But we think the new building will be a fairly accurate copy of what was there.’
Heron and Brearley group chairman Jonathan Clague said the site was one of the company’s most ambitious investments in the island.
He said: ‘Our aim has been to contribute to the quayside’s evolution into a unique attraction for Douglas. ICM celebrate 30 years since their founding and it is particularly satisfying for me to begin what I hope will be a long and fruitful partnership.’
Economic Development Minister John Shimmin praised H&B for investing in the site ahead of any changes at the adjacent bus station.