Revamp of well-known Lynn town centre site short-listed for design award

'Cosmopolitan' restaurant to open soon. From left: Zeliha Sarica, Ibrahim Sarica with 3 year old Lorin, Tony and Ros Turner with John Stephenson. ANL-140318-122111001
'Cosmopolitan' restaurant to open soon. From left: Zeliha Sarica, Ibrahim Sarica with 3 year old Lorin, Tony and Ros Turner with John Stephenson. ANL-140318-122111001

A prominent building in Lynn’s town centre has undergone such an impressive internal transformation it has been shortlisted for the prestigious Mayor’s Design Award.

The premises, which for many years housed Antonio’s Wine Bar on Blackfriars Street, has been significantly restyled to form a single, spacious open-plan dining area downstairs. The upper floors have been rebuilt to form two high-quality apartments, one three-bedroomed and the other two-bedroomed, which are now available for rent.

The building’s owner, businessman Mr Ibrahim Sarica, who owns Rumbles Fish Bar in Downham and a fish and chip shop in Doddington, told the Lynn News he plans to open a bistro-style restaurant on the site, which has been re-named Cosmopolitan.

“I wanted everything to be carried out to a very high standard,” he said. “I am going to be running the restaurant myself, It will be fully licensed and open all day and in the evenings too. There will be a mixed menu, which will include Italian-style food,” he said.

He said that he had spent about £100,000 on the refurbishment project, which began in January 2013, and he hopes to open for business in the next two or three months.

Downham-based planning agent John Stephenson, has been responsible for the re-design both structurally and aesthetically.

He said: “It has had a complete overhaul and has been rebuilt from scratch. Originally the building had been formed out of three separate cottages and so there were a lot of internal walls. Now, after a huge amount of work, there is one interior open-plan space which can be used as an eating area. It has doors which open onto the street which will allow for al fresco dining.

“It has taken a lot of work to achieve this, but it’s certainly got the wow factor. Structurally it was a difficult project, but it’s also one of the most enjoyable projects I have worked on.

“To make the short-list for the Mayor’s Award is a significant achievement and I feel that the scheme deserves this recognition.”

One of the features which has been retained is a stand-alone market cross on the roof. “These crosses were used to mark the site of a market town and there are not many left in situ throughout the whole of the UK, so it was important to keep it. Although the building is not listed, it is considered to be of high merit,” said Mr Stephenson.

The contractor who carried out all the building work was Zeki Karakurt, of London-based Zeki Construction and Interior Design. He said: “It’s a very old building and conservation has been important. It has required a lot of specialist work, but I think the overall result is really good and a great improvement.”

Inquiries about renting the two apartments can be made to Geoffrey Collings Estate Agent, of Blackfriars Road, on 01553 774566.