Is Titanic Quarter starting to sink..

BLOOMBERG is reporting that “Titanic Quarter Ltd. is reviewing a plan to build space for as many as 5,000 finance workers on Europe’s largest waterfront site, as the global credit crisis forces banks to slash jobs”. Building the 60,000sq metres of office space depends on tenants, and troubled Citigroup is the only business signed up so far. Nor are the apartments selling any more. “The industry has taken a few body blows,” said TQ chief exec Mike Smith. “We have to adapt our strategy to market conditions.” Doesn’t sound encouraging. (Hat-tip, Bobballs twittering.)

  • Buile Suibhne

    A few questions:
    1) How many of those who put down deposits for apartments will stump up the rest of the cash for their devalued purchase?
    2) Will TQL/ Harcourt be able to afford its part of the Titanic Signature project?

    It is just as if the iceberg hit the Drawing Office before the ship was even built.

    2012 will be remembered for the Olympics and for little else!

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Council houses are your only man times like these.

  • frustrated democrat

    The project will still work, only the timing is wrong.

    The recession will end and the economy will grow again, the only question is when.

  • niall

    frustrated democrat,

    No doubt but the problem for TQ is that it appears to have been at the very pique of the bubble.

    Without restating all NI’s economic woes, we must accept that this place will be growing from a very low base in terms of a real economy. That being the case the value of property in Belfast is without value when placed beside comparable cities.

    I hope I’m wrong as i’d like to have a job in Belfast during a new period of growth but fear that the local economy is in effect choked of opportunity by those who demand such ridiculous prices for property. These get passed down the pricing chain meaning doing business here is an expensive prospect.

    The post equity release world leaves people with huge debt to pay down, limits disposable income and demands conservative approaches to risk. You can hardly head of to be an entrepreneur when you owe 1200 a month on a terraced house in Belfast.

    A recovery will come.

    But we really must completely revaluate property prices and understand how damaging the run away train has been.

    On another point i’d be delighted if the brand Titanic was scaled back. It was a disaster so why use it to sell this place? People are interested in it some say but as we get further from the movie how much volume is there to this interest?

    People will come to Belfast and they will want to see something as “the thing people do when they visit Belfast” I suppose.

    But couldn’t Belfast do better?

  • iluvni

    Go back to the start and build a new stadium there, where it should always have been built.

  • If puffed up vanity and self-importance were commodities, then Belfast would be the veritable Saudi Arabia of the industry. It is a commonlace amongst Belfast people to consider the city to be some kind of world city, a magnet that draws people from all over, when in reality it is a rather ininspiring provincial town by world standards.

    Consider ome of the statements on this thread alone:

    … on Europe’s largest waterfront site …

    As if this is a positive thing? So, with property crashing all over the place, Belfast has a large area of derelict brownfield land facing a cold wet and windy inlet of a northern sea? And you think this compares with what .. Barcelona, Hamburg, La Rochelle, Marseilles, London, … What use is a ‘site’ if there’s no purpose in putting anything on it? There are thousands of hectares of comparable ‘development’ land all over the place – what makes Belfast’s so special?

    People will come to Belfast and they will want to see something …

    Why would people come to Belfast? Get real, its a one-hit wonder – the post-troubles tourists are coming to see what the fuss was about. But they won’t come back, because, well … basically there’s nothing to see or do! The climate is crap, the scenery is mediocre (at best), the architecture is lousy, the food worse. Why would anyone come to Belfast rather than, say, Spain, France, Portugal, Malta, Italy, Florida, you name it ….?

    Belfast is a post-industrial city, washed up on an inhospitable shore, far from the wider world. Maybe this is why its inhabitants think its so great, because they are out of touch with the sheer size and diversity of that wider world. So out of touch that they think the rest of the world gives a damn about Belfast. It doesn’t. Belfast people really need to deflate their fantasies about their city.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    A pessimistic view Horseman, but true!
    Kinda mad the Titanic Quarter developers talking about appartment living, property investment etc…in these credit crunch times.

    The Titanic Quarter would probably need something like a stadium to give it an anchor and a focal point, as like the Waterfront Hall and Odyssey Arena.

    After a 20 year building boom down south, with billions exchanging hands, Dublin Docks is still a work in progress. Many projects have been shelved because of the economic downturn, ie the U2 Tower, the Point Village Tower, etc… But at least the foundations have been put in place., and a lot of schemes that were started will be finished.

  • gram

    Good rant Horseman but you could say that about most cities.

    Ever thought about going to Bilbao before the Guggenheim arrived? Probably not.

    What Belfast requires is vision and not more apartments for key development areas.

  • Le Corbusier


    Public funds are being provided to create “focal points” in the TQ: PRONI; BMET College; and, of course, the white elephant and completely out of place “signature project”.

    The big “dig out quarter”.

  • niall


    I too wonder why they come but then again the “weekend break” in the noughties has seen some very unlikely tourist destinations emerge.

    I would like very much to go to all those places you mention especially at this time of year but Belfast has it’s interests for those making the opposite journey I suppose?

    I don’t know why but offer it as a destination and it would appear people just come?

  • gram,

    … you could say that about most cities

    Really, really, not. There are some beautiful places out there. Places with natural beauty, places with created beauty, places that are humming with life, diversity and interest. When people are planning their summer holidays, does anyone ever say, “hmm, what about a fortnight in Belfast?”. Not a chance – its not hard to figure out why.


    … offer it as a destination and it would appear people just come.

    Sure, some will. But not massive numbers. Just compare the traffic through Belfast’s airports and Dublin airport, or Malaga, or Copenhagen, or more or less anywhere. There are probably more visitors in an average day in Venice than Belfast sees all year! Again, not hard to see why.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just knocking Belfast because its a hole (though it is), I’m trying to point out that it is not the centre of the universe, except to its inhabitants, and if it wants to play a real role in the world it has to find a raison d’être that goes beyond a sunken ship made famous by Hollywood.

  • niall

    fair enough Horseman. I agree.

    I really hate the titanic themed development.

  • Smug O’ Toole

    what makes Belfast’s so special?

    I can list 11 things that make Belfast unique and special. In it’s own way.

    1. If you are looking for peacewalls and ancient tribal tension, you can either go to the West bank or Belfast, and these days, you stand less of a chance of being included in the hullaballoo in Belfast. Unfortunately, Banksy hasn’t been over to put cool politically charged graffiti on it, so you’ll have to make do with painted curbstones, violent murals and tasteless shrines to murderers. That said, at certain times of the year, Belfast must surely be the bunting capitol of the world.

    2. It’s probably the only place in the world where you can drive from one city centre (Belfast) to another ‘city’ centre (Lisburn) in about 10 minutes using a scooter. Eat that Tokyo bullet train!

    3. It’s probably the only city in the world that on March 17th is almost devoid of any green and festivities. While the rest of the world parties and indulges in all kinds of Irish culture from actual to plastic, Belfast is a safe haven if this is not your bag, and cheaper to get to than North Korea.

    4. It’s the only place in the world where the only thing of pride is a lump of rusting metal on the bottom of the Atlantic ocean which never completed a single task that it was made to do. Just don’t mention the rivets!

    5. It’s the only place in Europe where marxist former terrorist loonies who list ‘dancing at the crossroads’ amongst their hobbies share power with bigoted, openly discriminative and equally backward flat-earthers. There isn’t a zoo like this anywhere else in the world, as no other zoo has monkeys as religious as these!

    6. We always here about the ‘world famous’ Ulster humour. Due to the lack of any successful stand-ups (Jimmy Cricket, Frank Carson and Patrick Keilty!), comedians, comedy shows, etc. available anywhere else, we have to assume that the best Ulster has to offer stay at home and deprive the rest of the world of their talents.

    7. Errr, Ulster Fry??

    8. The Belfast Wheel, so you can see how uninteresting the city landscape is and plot the quickest way out. It really reinforces the circus experience felt on the ground. All that’s required is candy floss.

    9. Err, Pink buses??

    10. Err, It’s the only city in the world which Orbital called a tune after.

    11. As all the NI tourism posters state, it’s only an hour from Dublin, making it the largest population centre an hour from Dublin in the world (Not counting Dublin, California). After you’ve spent time indulging in a modern EU capitol, you are only one hour away from the 1970’s. Eat that Doc Brown! And not a flux capacitor or Delorean in site. Probably because it went bust in 1983.

  • Smug O’ Toole,

    If the Northern Ireland Tourist Board haven’t already snapped you up, then they’re missing a great opportunity. Brilliant!

  • Neil

    Very good Smug, like it. Have to throw my hat in with the naysayers. Belfast’s a shithole and I can’t wait to be out of it. I had friends from Spain visit Belfast a few years ago, they asked me where the should go. I said Galway.

  • Modernist

    Smug I think you’ve summed up the place qite well

  • gram

    Horseman >>Really, really, not. <

  • Ray Kinsella

    If you build it, they will come.

  • Sorry, gram, I don’t know who Bill and Ted are (or were?). As for my literary style, I can only apologise if it offends thine ear!

    And while people may not often go to cities for their holidays, they certainly go to urban areas – have you ever been to the Spanish coast? A lot of young people spend the summer city-hopping, but relatively few come to Belfast.

    If you assume that people go to the seaside or take active holidays (walking, cycling, sailing, horse-riding, whatever), the whole of Northern Ireland comes up short. And it isn’t a question of isolation – it is no more isolated than the rest of the country, but while tourists flock(ed) to the south and west and Dublin, they do not flock northwards in large numbers. There simply isn’t anything much for them to flock to. Even the poor old Giants Causeway (worth seeing, etc) doesn’t justify a half tank of petrol. Throw in some July 12th related mayhem and you can forget about the more discerning traveller.

  • well, call me insular if u must, but why oh why on earth wud we want our pubs,clubs,restaurants,cinemas & streets/churches/museums/parks/tenniscourts/golf clubs etc full of dodgy foreigners pestering u 4 directions &/or drunken english & nordic stag weekenders anyway?
    Let Dublin etc have them i say. A handful of tourists is bearable and even nice sometimes but surprisingly i dont want our wee city to turn into a crowded & expensive mini version of London/Dublin/Paris/Barcelona/Rome/Nice. What wud b the point of spending me hard earned money going to all those places if we had it all here?

  • picador

    I think Belfast and the surrounding area makes an interesting place to visit for a number of reasons. The city itself has a fine location enclosed by hills at the head of a sea lough. We still have a modicum of nice architecture and some interesting old industrial relics. There are fine parks in the hills overlooking the city and along the river. Great places to get lost in – weather permitting.

    Equally its possible to get on a suburban train and explore the various coastal paths that run along the shores of Belfast Lough. Look across the sea to Galloway and realise how close this part of Ireland is to Scotland.

    The Troubles stuff, depressing as it may be, is at least interesting (though I would like to see the walls come down) yet you can go to a different part of the city, and forget they ever happened.

    The city of Belfast itself is worth two to three days of any visitors itinerary at least. There is superb scenery to be experienced in counties Antrim & Down and again Belfast makes a fine base for exploring this region. There are a myriad of places waiting to be discovered around Strangford Lough, the Mourne Mountains, the Glens of Antrim and the north coast. Belfast also makes a good base for visiting the walled city of Derry and its environs.

    We may be short on picture-post card ‘sights’ such as pyramids and Colosseums but we do have fine countryside and some moderately interesting cities. The food might not be great but there is plenty of crack to be had in the pubs. We can also provide good hospitality and value for money – something which is in short supply in Dublin these days I believe.

  • The Raven

    Interesting footnote to what Picador says. The most visited “attractions” official list includes the usual suspects of the Causeway and the Odyssey.

    This from the Norn Irn “Tourist” Board:

    “A total of 712,714 visited the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre in 2007, up 29% on last year. Belfast Zoological Gardens ranked second attracting 294,935 visitors in 2007, an increase of 14%, closely followed by W5 with 247,506 visitors, up 5% on 2006.”

    What is doesn’t include is country parks and gardens. Would you believe that lowly wee Roe Valley Country Park in Limavady, gets over 350,000 visitors each year?

    And not a Lottery grant or Visitor Centre anywhere to be seen. A salutory lesson, methinks.

  • Dave

    “The city of Belfast itself is worth two to three days of any visitors itinerary at least.”

    Two or three hours maybe. I go to Belfast for the only Co-operative Bank branch in Ireland. That means gaving upward at some great examples of Victorian brickwork as I walk from the carpark to the bank; a coffee in Starbucks in Castlecourt, and a quick walk around the centre (maybe popping over to City Hall if there is a set up of stalls there), and then its over the bridge and down the Falls Road to the superstores on Boucher Road (there is probably a quicker way), and, err, that’s about it.

  • picador


    If you assume that people go to the seaside or take active holidays (walking, cycling, sailing, horse-riding, whatever), the whole of Northern Ireland comes up short.

    You can do all of the above activities aplenty round these parts. I have already mentioned some of the places worth exploring by these means.

    Even the poor old Giants Causeway (worth seeing, etc) doesn’t justify a half tank of petrol.

    Well, that’s not very active.

    Throw in some July 12th related mayhem

    The Twelfth has been peaceful for the last few years. Although I will agree that the flags are very off-putting (there is no accounting for the short-sightedness and thick-headedness of ‘the loyal orders’)


    Two or three hours maybe.

    Your itinerary says more about you than it does about Belfast.

  • Dave

    True, it says banal and rather drab cities don’t interest me.



    You are not living mate. Get away up to North Belfast and walk over the Cavehill and down the back of the zoo to Carnmoney Hill. The views on a clear day are second to none AND it’s free. Belfast still needs a tourist trail and infrastructure but has some of the best surrounding views of any city in these islands. As for the Titanic nonsense, the bloody thing sank and it should be hidden from everyone as well as the sectarian hellhole it was built in. Most Nationalists & Republicans I know want NO part of the Titanic quarter as it has such bitter memories for many Belfast Catholics. Let the Loyal Orders build replicas of the Garvaghy Road and Ardoyne shops there and they can march 365 days a year to their hearts desire. In fact if the Orders pay the going rate Nationalists will even travel there to be offended so as to bring some realism to it. Afterwards we could all have a beer in the Glentoran supporters club and talk about the good old days.

  • picador


    Dave is banal and does not listen.

    He probably comes from some overpriced drab city like Dublin. 🙂

    Back to your points.

    I don’t know why Belfast Catholics would have bad memories of the shipyard as few of them ever went there. I do however understand the sentiment you are expressing but it is WRONG. The ghetto mentality must be abolished. This land belongs to you and me.

    Having said that I must admit to being sceptical about the proposed ‘Titanic Quarter’ from a tourist point of view. Could turn into a very large white elephant. But a good idea about having the 12th over there!

  • conor

    picador, u cant see wahy catholics who were excluded from the main employer in belfast on the basis of their religion, and noyhing else, have bad merories of the shipyard?really

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Here’s some imagery of North American cities.. ie New York, Chicago etc…set to a piece of music by Ultravox.
    The piece is about 30 years old, but look at all the trappings of contemporary and modern living -appartments, mono-rails, shopping malls, offices etc… Stuff we in Ireland finally attained at the end of the 20th century!

  • picador


    Let’s try again shall we:

    I don’t know why Belfast Catholics would have bad memories of the shipyard as few of them ever went there.

    Perhaps you don’t do irony!?

    The shipyard has been closed for many a year now. Try living in the present for a change.

  • Driftwood

    Added tourist potential would be for everyone entering the titanic quarter to be stopped and searched at a UDR vcp.
    Quite why you equate ‘catholics’ and ‘nationalists and republicans’ is beyond me though. I know quite a few catholics who are not of that political viewpoint.

  • Must admit it had not crossed my mind that people mite or mite not go to the either visit or live in the Titanic Quarter cause of their religion or politics – its surely beside the Oddessey complex which from my experience hasnt proved daunting – altho i’m sure its easy staggering distance to trouble makers whether they be from Short Strand or the N’Ards Road. Most visitors/apartment dwellers shud have no need to see a flag/bunting or wall mural to get there. Am i missing something? or do a few nerdish posters on this site, who really need 2 get out more, just like to knock anything vaguely positive bout this place?

  • Smug O’ Toole

    overpriced drab city like Dublin

    Agree with you here. O’Connell street/parnell St/Dorset St area is an absolute kip. The ‘face-lift’in Drumcondra was half-as$ed and left the place worse off, the quay’s beyond O’Connell bridge down to Hueston station are terrible. The docklands area is starting to look smart and the IFSC still looks good. St. Stephens green/Kildare street area is always nice, but what visitors have for a first impression of the place (after they realise that there is no rail link from the airport, and they experience the ‘hospitality’ of Dublin bus drivers and Nigerian taximen) is all woeful until they get off south O’Connell St.

    Go to Barcelona or Amsterdam to see cities which have everything. Just remember in Barca, never buy drugs off the Africans whose territory is left of Las Ramblas as you face towards the sea…..get them instead off the Indians/Pakistani’s on the right side of the street. Better deals and they really know how to look after a customer! 😉

  • Smug O’ Toole,

    … get them instead off the Indians/Pakistani’s on the right side of the street.

    Are they related in any way to the hookers openly offering their ‘wares’ just off the La Rambla on the RH side at the bottom as you face the sea?


  • Smug O’ Toole


    I know exactly where you are talking about. Allegedly.
    Those hookers must have watched ‘Glengarry Glenross’ too many times and took Baldwins speech about ‘ABC, Always Be Closing’ to heart. If you’re not careful, you’ll be forcefully dragged down some narrow street. I’ve seen a poor drunk tourist or two wobbling by and then WOOSH, dragged down the ally-way.

    If yer allegedly looking for ‘a good time’, I recommend Prague. One fine establishment I visited had 123 strippers in it. There was some English dude on stage, blindfolded and bare-arsed being whipped by a dominatrix (I was going to say something smart about English people and their love of a saucy caning, but I guess the Christian Brothers sorted us out for that sort of thing!), on the table to our right was a lesbian show, the table to our left had a midget stripper on it and we had a lapdance that was sooo intimate that I don’t think I can say anything more about it!

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t know why Belfast Catholics would have bad memories of the shipyard as few of them ever went there. I do however understand the sentiment you are expressing but it is WRONG. The ghetto mentality must be abolished. This land belongs to you and me.

    This comment made me think of something. This is a project which is essentially in East Belfast and was backed by the Executive. Couldn’t SF have traded their assent for this in exchange for DUP support for one of their pet projects ? Rather than just caving in to DUP demands ?


    Your description sounds like the Darling Cabaret in Prague. I couldn’t believe my own eyes at the things I saw in there.

  • A Trader
  • In Soviet Russia

    Sink is starting to Titanic Quarter you!