David's vision for Hazelwood House From ‘Sligo Champion’ - Sorcha Crowley Whiskey,    waterfalls    and    watertaxis,    it    could    read    straight    from    a    James    Bond screenplay.   In   fact   it's   the   vision   of   Hazelwood   House   new   owner   Dublin   entrepreneur   David Raethorne   which   he   shared   with   The   Sligo   Champion   this   week.   He   was   in   town   to   oversee   the work   which   has   already   begun   to   make   the   house   and   former   factory   safe.   "Initially,   our   plan   is to   fix   up   all   the   damage   which   will   take   six   months   minimum,"   he   said,   during   our   tour   of   the nationally   important   18th   century   Palladian   mansion.   "At   the   same   time   we'll   plan   the   entire project   and   submit   planning   in   the   next   six   months.   That   could   take   a   year   so   you're   looking   at two years before the building could start." In   the   meantime,   David   plans   to   shore   up   the   house,   get   it   to   the   point   where   it's   in   walk-in condition   so   that   at   least   he   could   bring   the   public   in   and   show   the   house   by   this   summer.   The 20,000   sq   ft   house   has   beautiful   cornicing   and   original   timberwork.   Many   rooms   are   water damaged   but   the   software   millionaire   plans   to   restore   them   all.   It   includes   a   master   bedroom, ballroom,   servants   quarters   and   central   atrium.   The   top   floor   could   be   used   as   a   bridal   suite   for marquee   weddings.He   plans   to   use   vaults   underneath   the   house   for   a   whiskey   visitor   centre. "Ultra premium single malt top end whiskey" will be distilled by master distillers. Two   ancient   mills   in   the   grounds   will   be   also   be   restored.   Looking   out   from   the upstairs   windows,   the   500,000   sq   ft   former   factory   is   an   eyesore."Our   biggest   challenge   will   be to   disguise   that,"   he   admitted.   "Maybe   we'll   use   a   water   feature,   a   waterfall   along   the   lines   of the   Water   Wall   in   Houston   Texas".   Inside,   he   will   build   a   distillery,   art   galleries   and   indoor   zip- lining,   high   end   retail   and   indoor   gardens   are   all   being   considered.   Final   year   architecture students from Sligo IT are doing a project on the House. Between   the   house   and   the   river   lies   a   roadway   of   derelict   cottages   which   he   plans   to rebuild.   He'd   like   to   build   a   pontoon   and   provide   a   water   taxi   service   between   Sligo   town   and the   site.   "We   don't   want   to   do   anything   that's   going   to   upset   people.   We'd   rather   work   with people," he said. Eddie   Walsh   from   Lissadell   has   been   in   touch.   "Ultimately   we'd   like   to   end   up   with something   that's   complimentary   to   what   Lissadell   are   doing.   If   we   can   get   more   tourists   to   Sligo it   benefits   everybody,"   he   added.   He   may   be   up   to   his   knees   in   mud   but   there's   nothing   bog standard about his vision for Hazelwood House. "We   want   to   turn   it   into   a   living   building,   along   the   lines   of   Powerscourt   House.We're   on   the Wild   Atlantic   Way,   the   scenery   around   here   is   stunning,   it   has   everything   going   for   it.   It   just needs   a   bit   of   oomph!"
Hazelwood   House   on   the   shores   of   Lough   Gill   in   Co   Sligo,   which   was   built   for   the   Wynne   family   in   the 1720s,   has   been   bought   by   a   software   developer   who   has   pledged   to   transform   it   into   a   tourist   destination.   The sale   has   been   welcomed   by   the   Hazelwood   Heritage   Society   which   has   campaigned   for   years   for   the   preservation of   the   Palladian   mansion.   It   was   designed   by   Richard   Cassels   who   also   designed   Leinster   House   and   Powerscourt House. The   new   owner   David   Raethorne,   intends   to   establish   a   craft   distillery   and   visitors’   centre   in   the   disused factory   building   on   the   estate   and   to   restore   the   historic   house.   The   Dublin-based   businessman   said   he   and   his wife   “fell   in   love   with   the   place”   when   they   first   saw   it   last   November,   having   come   to   view   it   with   a   friend   who was   thinking   of   buying   it   .“We   intend   to   have   a   tourism   project   that   will   put   Sligo   on   the   map,”   said   Mr Raethorne. ‘Pop-up’ projects While   stressing   that   planning   was   at   “the   very,   very   early   stages”   given   that   the   sale   was   completed   just before   Christmas,   he   predicted   that   the   estate   would   be   open   to   the   public   by   this   summer.   It   is   likely   that   initially “pop   up”   projects   will   be   located   in   the   factory   which   was   built   on   the   grounds   by   the   Italian   nylon   manufacturer Snia   in   1969. The   new   owner   said   that,   as   well   as   a   distillery,   his   long   term   plans   included   the   provision   of   a   high end   restaurant   and   retail   facilities,   as   well   as   a   number   of   arts   initiatives   and   a   range   of   outdoor   activities.   He predicted   that,   when   up   and   running,   the   80   acre   estate   could   attract   up   to   200,000   visitors   a   year.   Mr   Raethorne’s proposals   were   welcomed   by   local   conservation   consultant   Wendy   Lyons,   a   founder   member   of   the   Hazelwood Historical Society. ‘Great for Sligo’ “If   he   does   even   50   per   cent   of   what   he   is   planning   I   think   it   will   be   great   for   Co   Sligo,”   said   Ms   Lyons, who described Hazelwood as a house of national Importance. “It   was   the   first   one   designed   by   Cassels   before   Powerscourt, Westport   and   Russborough,”   she   explained. Occupied   by   the   Wynne   family   until   the   early   1900s,   Hazelwood   was   bought   by   a   group   of   local   investors, Foresthaze   Development,   in   2006.   This   company   which   unsuccessfully   sought   planning   permission   for   158 detached   houses   and   over   50   apartments   there   in   2007,   was   placed   in   receivership   in   2013.   The   property, including   the   derelict   factory   building,   was   put   on   the   market   at   an   initial   asking   price   of   €2.5   million,   which   was later   reduced   to   €550,000.   Mr   Raethorne   said   he   had   paid   slightly   over   the   asking   price   but   said   this   figure   was “irrelevant”.   He   said   the   cost   of   the   developments   planned   would   be   “into   millions”.   He   and   his   wife,   Sue,   are   the primary shareholders in Hazelwood Demesne Limited, which is backed by “friends and family”. The   proposed   distillery   would   occupy   only   5   per   cent   of   the   factory   where   the   total   floor   space   “is   half   the   size   of Dundrum    shopping    centre”,    according    to    Mr    Raethorne.    Local    campaigner    Beatrice    McDonald,    whose grandfather was a gamekeeper on the estate, described the sale as “very good news” for the northwest.
Sligo mansion to be transformed into tourist destination Software developer’s pledge to restore Hazlewood House is welcomed by heritage society  - The Irish Times
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