A Kent restaurateur is bidding to transform a derelict seafront eyesore that has sat empty for years into a boutique hotel with a rooftop bar.
The long-vacant site in Central Parade, Herne Bay, was flattened last week after it was snapped up by A La Turka owner Mehmet Dari for more than £500,000 at the beginning of June.
The businessman says he will use the space as an outdoor seating area accommodating as many as 60 customers for the Turkish eatery until his £4 million hotel scheme is given the green light.
As part of the project, A La Turka will be extended across the ground floor, while up to 30 £200-a-night rooms and an exclusive rooftop bar will be built above.
“It was a really rubbish area [the site] and really bad. We can turn it from rubbish to gold,” Mr Dari told KentOnline.
“I think there’s potential for a hotel because there isn’t one on the seafront.
“It’ll mean 30 people a day could go into Herne Bay, which would help all the businesses out.
“Whitstable’s got hotels – like the Marine Hotel in Tankerton – and they’re all busy, bringing in the customers to the area.”
Mr Dari, who also owns High Street bar Grapevine, says he wanted to tidy up that corner of the coastline as it detracted from the image of his restaurant next door.
The magnate claims the rooftop bar – which he expects to serve cocktails, wines and beers – will be akin to those found in London.
He stresses it will not be a “rowdy” establishment and that it will likely employ a booking system to manage numbers.
“A La Turka customers would be able to enjoy their meals at the restaurant and then go up for a drink at the top,” he added.
“It’ll be like the rooftop bars in London. It will probably serve those staying at the hotel and people wanting to relax and chill out as they watch the sunset.
“We want to extend the restaurant downstairs, so it’ll have a bigger bar, more toilets and a lounge area for where the customers come out of the toilets.
“It’ll be a boutique hotel above. It’ll be nice and unique for the area. We want the building to suit the area and make it nicer.”
The site on the corner of Central Parade and Market Street had sat partially demolished for a number of years until what remained of the structure was torn down at the start of this month.
Mr Dari purchased it with planning permission to build a block of 12 flats above a retail unit on the ground floor.
But the entrepreneur, who also owns A La Turka restaurants in Canterbury and Ramsgate, has instead opted for the “exciting project”, which he believes will contribute to the town’s regeneration.
“It’s still early days. Our architects said the council would be happy if we can change the flats into a hotel above,” Mr Dari continued.
“We are talking to the planners at Canterbury City Council, but it’s going to take time.
“Until we get permission, we’ll use it as an outdoor seating area. Potentially, we could put an outdoor bar there as well.
“It’s quite big. If we push, we could have more than 50 to 60 seats, but we don’t want it to be too crowded.”
Provided he is given the green light by Canterbury City Council, Mr Dari expects to begin the year-long construction project in 2023.
This is the second hotel planned for the Herne Bay seafront, as Wetherspoon wants to convert the space above its Saxon Shore pub in Central Parade into 20 rooms.