Belfast Telegraph

Jobs galore in Belfast, but dearth of office space an issue

By Clare Weir

While a Belfast art dealer has credited American investors and Northern Ireland firms for a rise in the sales of Irish fine art, the boom in inward investment and the resulting shortage in office space may mean that big businesses may be running out of room to hang their new paintings.

Charles Gilmore has said that as well as Northern Ireland's leading corporates seeking paintings to adorn their offices, staff of American companies, who have come to Northern Ireland with the backing of Invest NI, have been taking Irish art back across the Atlantic.

Meanwhile Jackie Henry, senior partner at financial services firm Deloitte, which has announced over 300 high-value jobs in Belfast, has hinted that the firm is seeking new premises.

Acknowledging that the company's Cromac Avenue building is now filled to capacity, she told the Belfast Telegraph that the search had started for more office space.

With not only multinationals but now major film productions coming to Northern Ireland, space seems to be at a premium.

In the short-term, the private market is certainly benefiting.

This week it was reported that an unnamed consultancy company from California is paying £3,600 rent a month for a property in Belfast's Chlorine Gardens for its staff to live in while they work elsewhere in Belfast. But while some agents may be laughing all the way to the bank, commercial property experts have been warning for some time that there is a serious lack of premium office space in the city – which could present a problem to Invest Northern Ireland and other bodies trying to lure large inward investors to these shores.

Last month it was warned that the region will be at a competitive disadvantage if action is not taken to provide more high-end accommodation.

CBRE's latest market view showed that office take-up between January and June this year is up nearly 60% on the second half of 2012.

With the economy recovering and ever more investment and job announcements, the priority now is for developers to make sure there is enough room at the inn.

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