THIS is the first glimpse of the landmark building set to be the first major step in redeveloping the seafront.
Award-winning Wearside-based Fitz Architects worked with Jet, which owns Martinos restaurants in Sunderland and Seaham, to draw up plans to redevelop the run-down Seaburn Shelter into a buzzing seaside complex.
Giant glass walls will provide views out to sea and up and down the coast from a new floor built on top of the existing building.
Craig Fitzakerly, managing director of Fitz, said: “The aim is to create an impressive, memorable building which is something people in Sunderland and people from outside the area will want to visit.
“The whole concept of the design was to make the building as transparent as possible by using as much glass as feasible, so people passing by can see straight through it and out to sea.”
Mr Fitzakerly, best known in Sunderland for his work on the landmark Echo 24 apartment building, was brought up in Seaburn.
“Sunderland’s seafront doesn’t have anything like this, and we need something like this – particularly on that side of the road,” he said.
“There aren’t many facilities on the actual sea side of the road.”
The upper floor of the building is divided into large units which Mr Fitzakerly said would be suitable for use as restaurant, cafe or bar businesses.
There is also a covered outdoor area on the top floor, which dog walkers and other visitors on wet days could use.
The bottom floor can be divided into up to eight units for smaller businesses.
Mr Fitzakerly said there had already been a great deal of interest in the site.
The revamped shelter will also house much-needed public toilets and a RNLI lifeguard station.
There will also be outdoor seating areas at beach level and a new staircase down to the sands.
The original concept for the top floor of the building was for solid walls to the north and south to feature light projections.
But Mr Fitzakerly said potential businesses were interested in glass walls on three sides to provide better views of the coast, and attract more passing trade from motorists on Whitburn Road.
The concrete on the original structure of the shelter will be sand-blasted and fitted with timber slats to improve its appearance and there will be shutters fitted to the lower floor to help protect the building’s finish from the elements.
Fitz Architects and Jet Ltd’s proposals won a competition set up by Sunderland City Council to revamp Seaburn Shelter as part of improvements to the seafront.
The partners have been working closely with the council to draw up the final proposals, which have now been submitted to the planning department.
The team hopes to get the go-ahead in November, with work starting early in the new year and the development opening in June 2012.