A NEW plush, town centre, four star boutique hotel will be open for business by this time next year, according to Strabane businessman Johnny Kelly.
Mr Kelly, who this week is celebrating the relaunch of the Fir Trees Hotel after last October’s fire, says he hopes that his unique boutique establishment at the old First Trust Bank in Main Street will be up and running and accepting guests by June of 2020.
Strabane’s newest hotel, based in the listed bank building as well as an extension to the rear of the premises, is expected to provide employment to over 25 people.
Mr Kelly says now that the renovations are complete in the Fir Trees, he will be putting all his focus on getting his new hotel off the ground.
“We have procured a building in the town centre, the old First Trust building,” he said. “And our idea for that is a town centre boutique hotel. We can now start to look seriously at that.
Because obviously the events of the last six months have detracted us from that. But now that we have got through this we can now look at that growth as well.
“The initial plans are done for the town centre hotel. We have been in various discussions with Invest NI.
“They like the project, verbally. Obviously until you get a letter of offer you can never be sure, but they are very, very supportive. They are quite excited by it.”
Mr Kelly says he hopes the project, to be split into two stages, will be completed in the next 12 months.
“In terms of timescale, much of that will be dictated by the process that we have to go through, with regards planning.
“The fact that it’s a listed building puts some constraints on what we can and cannot do. So really we have to get our way through that phase, but I would like to think that this time next year we would have the town centre business operational, if not absolutely complete.
“Because it can be done in two phases – one the renovation of the existing building and number two the extension to that building. So it’s a two process project, but I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t up and running by this time next year.
“We will be employing circa 25 people and we would be going for a four star hotel rating.”