Lurgan’s famous Manhattan Bar – destroyed in a fire almost a decade ago – looks set to re-open.
For the iconic Church Street property is due to be rebuilt and brought back into productive use as a bar and restaurant.
Armagh I first revealed the intentions to restore the building back in November last year.
And now Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has served up approval for the restaurant and bar plans.
What is on the menu now is a complete restoration project – at significant cost – which will transform the building and see it lovingly restored and trading once more.
A ferocious blaze back in 2014 left the property at Church Place – which was built in the mid-1800s – gutted.
These new proposals, which have just been approved, will see the reinstatement of the bar and extensive rebuilding.
It will be largely similar in terms of facilities with public bar at ground floor, lounge bar on first floor and restaurant on the second floor.
There will also be a new lift installed too to allow for customers to move between floors as well as a protected staircase restored as part of the project.
PKO Leisure Ltd is behind the plans which will involve “alteration, conservation and renovation” works being carried out.
The plans would involve repairing the “historic fabric” of the building, with internal alterations involving the reinstatement of fire damaged floors and ceilings, roofs, and collapsed gables and chimneys.
Gas fired central heating, fire and burglars alarms will be installed, with rewiring throughout.
“Inappropriate and fire damaged windows” will be replaced with alterations to the front of the building and to a number of door and window openings.
The fire damaged roof structures will be replaced and pitched roofs will be re-slated with natural Welsh slate.
The entire property will also be entirely redecorated throughout too.
The proposals drew no objections from the various statutory agencies consulted, including Environmental Health, Historic Environment Division, NI Water and DfI Roads.
And there were no objections either from any members of the public.
According to the professional planners’ report, the proposals are in keeping with policies and will benefit the town centre.
Their report states: “All windows are modern timber casements which have been severely damaged by fire and exposure to the elements. The front façade is to have all sash windows replaced to replicate the original windows, while the rear extension will have dark grey slim aluminium framed slim double glazed windows.
“The existing modern shopfront is to be removed and replaced with a shopfront that replicates as much as possible the original from 1865.
“All existing doors are modern and are to be replaced. The new front door is to be a painted four panelled raised and
fielded hardwood door.”
Indeed, officers say they “consider that the proposed design, layout and landscape treatment are appropriate to the townscape and are sympathetic to the surrounding environment in terms of its siting, layout and landscape treatment”.
And they add: “Officers, in consultation with Environmental Health, have no concern that the proposed use would not unduly affect residential properties in terms of noise, as there are none in close proximity to the site, and the
application seeks to rebuild the fire damaged building to allow the current use on the site – public house and restaurant -to continue.”
It was shortly after 5am on a Sunday morning in April 2014 that the alarm was raised that the Manhattan was on fire.
Originally it had been feared that there were people on the premises but fire personnel soon ruled this out.
A total of five fire appliances and over 40 firefighters spent hours battling the town centre inferno, using jet reels either side of the building to prevent the flames from spreading to neighbouring properties.
It took until almost 11am to bring the blaze under control.
The prominent landmark pub was well and truly gone and the property has remained vacant and unused ever since.
But now a decision notice approving the restoration and development has been issued allowing works to proceed and the Manhattan to make its way back!