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Belfast New Look building goes on market for £14.25m

By John Mulgrew

A Belfast city centre building that houses fashion retailer New Look has gone on sale for £14.25m.

Fountain House is a B1 listed building on Donegall Place. In 2006 it underwent a major refit and renovation and is currently let out to the high street chain, which is in the middle of a 20-year lease that began in 2007.

Work to improve the building included facade retention and refit to include three floors for retail and a fourth for storage.

It covers a total area of more than 46,000 sq ft and is owned by M&G Property Portfolio, which bought the building for £13.4m in August 2014.

The property is being sold by Colliers. In marketing documents, the commercial property firm said: "Donegall Place has been considered the prime retailing pitch within Belfast city centre for at least the last 50 years and was the location of the historic Belfast department stores Robinson Cleaver and Anderson & McAuley".

No one from Colliers was available for comment.

Last October M&G Investments said it was resuming trading in its property fund after suspending it in July because of market turmoil triggered by the Brexit vote.

The asset manager said trading would continue in its M&G Property Portfolio and its feeder fund from November 4.

Last year the M&G Property Portfolio said that it would invest in 119 commercial properties in retail, industrial and office sectors on behalf of its retail investors.

The proposed sale of Fountain House is the latest significant activity in the commercial property market in Belfast.

Last month it was revealed that a building attached to the former BHS outlet had been sold to a property investor as interest in the empty retail space itself increased.

It is understood that Bywater Properties was the buyer of the Castle Lane site after negotiations that lasted some time.

The company is part of a consortium planning to spend £15m on a major office and retail development elsewhere in Belfast city centre.

The building at Donegall Place, currently home to Boots as well as office space, was sold last summer for an undisclosed amount.

A company behind several student accommodation projects in Belfast has also bought a former city centre office building for an undisclosed sum.

The building, located between Academy Street and Exchange Street, will be redeveloped in a joint venture between Lacuna Developments and Welsh property firm Watkin Jones. Neither of the companies have said what the newly acquired site will be used for in the future.

Lacuna and Watkin Jones are behind several student developments in the city.

They include the 317-bedroom Swanston Hall (the former Athletic Stores building) on the corner of Queen Street in the city centre.

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