A £5 million regeneration project is on the way for the Thomas Street area of Portadown, centred around the iconic Thornton’s building and stretching back to the Millennium Court Arts Centre in William Street.
The development is the brainchild of Portadown 2000, which created Millennium Court. They believe it will be the catalyst for further private and public projects in the town centre, and running down to the River Bann.
Portadown 2000 chairman Brian Walker said, “We are convinced it will be the start of revitalising Portadown. We hope that the completion of the derelict block of partially-built flats adjacent to Thomas Street Methodist will be next on the town’s agenda.”
The overall emphasis will be on office space and start-up units for small businesses, exhibition spaces for cultural and heritage activities, plus a lecture theatre and coffee shop, with an extension to the existing markets in adjacent William Street.
There will be training and networking facilities, together with arts and drama and exhibition areas. It will also provide facilities for social and recreational activities.
Portadown 2000 manager Esther Baird said, “It will be a shared space facility in a neutral area within Portadown town centre, where people from all backgrounds and communities can come together to participate in arts, heritage, recreation and economic activities.
“It will complement our existing Millennium Court arts centre and markets, and will open up access between William Street and Thomas Street.”
As well as the arts centre, the Millennium Court houses several retail units and a major restaurant.
The chairman of the sub-committee responsible for the new project is Bryan McLaughlin.
He said, “This is the boost that Portadown really needs. We are drawing in funding from various sources, and plan to get it off the ground as soon as possible.
“The shared space aspect is vitally important to Portadown 2000. Our aim is to make this a major element in revitalising the town, and hope that other developments, public and private, will follow.”
Over the coming weeks, there will be a public consultation programme, and members of the public can view the plans at the Millennium Court building in William Street.