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New Ulster University campus attracts more than 30 new businesses to the Cathedral Quarter

Published on 17 June 2023

Damien Corr from Cathedral Quarter BID pictured with Peter McCleery of Get Sociable

While the last few years have witnessed some of the most dismal trading environments, one area of Belfast City Centre is bucking the trend having attracted more than 30 new businesses since the pandemic.

In recent times the Cathedral Quarter has become a nightlife hotspot with a variety of bars attracting both tourists and locals alike, however with the opening of the new Ulster University Belfast campus last year, businesses are flocking to the area.

Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) Manager Mr Damien Corr said that he is not surprised that creative entrepreneurs are drawn to the Cathedral Quarter.

"If you think back to the almost apocalyptic days of Lockdown when ‘tumbleweed’ was blowing down every street in the city… every street except Hill Street where the entrepreneurial nous of Ryan Crown and his ‘Toast Office’ team saw queues of socially distanced people stretching right down the street," he said.

"The relocation of the Ulster University campus to the Cathedral Quarter has already proved a gamechanger, with the additional 17,000 personnel adding significantly to the vibrancy and viability of in the area.

"The exciting and innovative flagship project ‘Belfast Stories’, scheduled to open in 27/28, is another step change development which will further encourage businesses to vote with their feet."

Mr Corr pointed out that planning proposals for Tribeca Belfast and the Smithfield Yard project are set to transform neighbouring streets which will in turn attract even more people to the area. In keeping with the increasing demand for tourist accommodation, a number of hotels are also planned for the Cathedral Quarter.

"Work has just got underway on the new Boutique Hotel on Donegall Street backing onto Warehouse Lane. Two further Hotels are planned for Hill Street and Waring Street," Damien added.

"When added to our already existing choice of hotels covering budgets right up to 5-Star, these developments put Cathedral Quarter in the driving seat to take advantage of the projected boom in tourism and general visitor stayovers."

In relation to the current trading climate Mr Corr said: "like most UK cities, we are far from an ideal trading landscape; the impact of inflationary operation costs, and the legacy of Brexit and coronavirus still contribute to a challenging scenario.

"As we consider the 25th anniversary of the GFA our businesses are calling on our political representatives to mirror the energy and passion of our private sector and get the systems up and running that will create the stability and continuity that will drive future innovation and investment."

Among the new businesses to open include Bakari, a family-run bakery which uses traditional Nordic baking methods learnt in Reykjavik, Iceland, with local ingredients and some typical pastries from this part of the world.

In addition to this, entertainment app company Get Sociable have also made the Cathedral Quarter their home.

The mobile application makes personalised recommendations venues, music artists, events, and promotions in one place without having to trawl social media to find what you are looking for.

Chief Executive of Get Sociable Peter McCleery said: "After a visit to the Clockwise co-working space on High Street we knew it was the ideal location for us in the heart of Cathedral Quarter for us to grow our business.

"We benefitted from engagement with other companies based there and this really fostered meaningful collaboration, and this is still as true today as it was the first day we moved in.

"It was had great appeal when we were attracting new members of the team and all of this has enabled us to get to the point where have a first release of our live entertainment platform.

"Being in the Cathedral Quarter has also given us a fantastic base to meet with existing and prospective business customers."

Other businesses who have chosen to open in the area include Alba Scottish Steakhouse, Legacy Resources and Waterman House.

Source: BelfastLive (link opens in new window)