An iconic 19th-century building on Skye is set to be transformed into a 10-bedroom hotel called ‘Poseidon’, according to the owner of the building.
Lossiemouth-based businessman Mohamed Ali told the Free Press that he planned to turn the building in Portree, known as the Black Memorial Hall, into a “modern hotel” boasting 10 bedrooms which he hoped to open by Christmas 2019.
The hotel will be called ‘Poseidon’ and will house 10 bedrooms with en-suite facilities, a bar, coffee area, and a two-bedroom self-catering flat. Mr Ali has said that the hotel will employ six full-time staff and four part-time staff, who will be offered flexi-time as part of company policy.
Built in the 1820s as the South Church, the Black Memorial Hall is situated in Bank Street and overlooks Portree Harbour. From its origins as a church, the building has gone on to act as a rations store during World War II, a community hall and latterly as Dovetail furniture store.
In the last 15 years, various plans to repurpose the building have been submitted to the Highland Council, such as proposals for a dental surgery in 2004, a café in 2009, and an Indian Restaurant in 2011. Indeed, the latter plan for a restaurant came during the start of Mr Ali’s ownership of the building, which he purchased in 2009.
In announcing plans for the new hotel, Mr Ali was critical of the Highland Council for a delay in the planning permission for the development. He said: “At one stage it took ten months to get a reply from them.
“In the end, we received an apology for the delay from the planning department. However, I am delighted all of these hurdles have been overcome and I can’t wait for the work to get underway.”
Originally submitted in 2016 and 2017, a spokesperson for Mr Ali said that the two applications pertaining to the development were delayed due to the length of time the Portree planners took to reply to his architect’s letter regarding the ratification of the Conditions in the Listed Building Consent and Planning Permission.
In response to those comments, Councillor John Gordon said: “Planning for the proposal was granted on 13th September 2017, and Listed Building Consent was given on 18th September 2017.
“Given this, I am disappointed at how long it has taken for these plans to be taking forward since then, but I welcome the progress that is now being made.”
Mr Ali has told the Free Press that work on the ‘Poseidon’ hotel will begin in March.
Article by Adam Gordon