Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Belfast office rental market is off to a 'subdued start'

CBRE director David Wright
CBRE director David Wright

Deals are currently being struck for 150,000 square feet of office space for Belfast, according to a commercial property agent.

CBRE said that in the first six months of the year, there were 21 transactions for around 94,000 sq ft of city centre office space in a "subdued start" to 2014.

"Highlights in the first half of the year included deals to Deloitte, Cowen Financial, Scottish and Southern Energy, and Herbert Smith Freehills, the latter expanding their operations further," the report said.

"Towards the end of the half there were a raft of job announcements from Invest NI on behalf of companies such as Alexander Mann, Options, WAVTEQ, CVS Caremark, and Spence and Partners, and we expect this to translate into leasing activity."

CBRE'S David Wright said that while the first half of the year was slow, transactions in the second half should pull it up to a "fairly average" year.

"I know there are deals for around 150,000 sq ft of city centre offices in Belfast city centre which are currently in legals," he said, adding that accountancy firms Deloitte and EY had also announced plans for expansion, with both requiring up to 60,000 sq ft over the next two years.

The market report also revealed a shortfall in the amount of available accommodation, including a downturn in Grade A space.

"There was approximately 1.07 million sq ft of available accommodation in Belfast at the end of H1 2014, down circa 92,000 sq ft over six months."

But future office development including the 68,000 sq ft City Quays 1 in Titanic Quarter, would provide "much needed space by the first quarter of next year".

The next phase of the massive project, City Quays 2, will extend space further to 124,000 sq ft, and Belfast Harbour has already submitted a planning application.

Within Titanic Quarter, the Olympic Building (150,000 sq ft) has planning permission, while in south Belfast, further space will be available with a 20,000 sq ft office building at Weavers Court.

The first half of 2014 also saw £143.7m in investment deals – with upcoming transactions including the sale of Victoria House in Belfast under offer for £8.7m.

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