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New £15m office and retail project for Belfast city centre

By John Mulgrew

Published 23/08/2016

The site of the planned development
The site of the planned development

More than £15m is being spent on a major office and retail development in the heart of Belfast city centre.

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

Plans are now under way to extend and refurbish the building, which would include 37,000 sq ft of retail and 65,000 sq ft of office space.

The retail and office block on Donegall Place has been taken over by Belfast-based Ashmour as part of a consortium including Lumina Real Estate Capital and Bywater Capital.

It had been part of the Wildrose group of property firms, owned by developer and former boxing promoter Barney Eastwood.

Coleraine-based GM Design Associates is the architect behind the multi-million-pound project.

It’s understood the total building and fit out costs could exceed £15m.

The plans for the building include striking new facades as part of the office development.

The developers say the scheme will “incorporate key elements to reference its historical importance in Belfast’s role as a major powerhouse of linen production”.

It will feature an open-plan, atrium-style reception lobby and roof terraces with views across the city.

Patrick O’Gorman of Bywater Properties said: “We’re confident that the combination of the traditional external architecture with the cutting edge and contemporary office accommodation will further unlock the potential of this strategically-important location, creating a new amenity which will create multiple benefits for the city.

“Long-term, we have no doubt that this exciting addition will help to bolster Belfast’s growth and provide opportunities for new and existing businesses to thrive.

“With our partners, we plan to make a significant investment in the building and, ultimately, a massive contribution to Belfast’s commercial and retail success.

Once finished, the building will be able to hold more than 700 office and retail workers.

Those behind the build say additional jobs will also be created during the construction and fit-out.

Timothy Robinson, project architect of GM Design Associates, said: “Our proposal for this landmark office building in Belfast reflect the ambitions of a dynamic, experienced and enthusiastic award-winning team.

“The proposals strike a careful balance between respect for what exists already and the desire to bring to Belfast world-class office accommodation which would not be out of place in New York or Hong Kong.”

Ashley Stewart, director of Ashmour, said: “This exciting new development will give confidence to the many firms looking for contemporary grade A office space in Belfast city centre which is currently in very short supply.”

It is the latest large-scale office development planned for the city centre.

Elsewhere, property developer Paddy Kearney is planning to develop a series of huge office buildings across the city over the next few years, in order to help meet a severe shortage of top-end office space in Belfast.

Mr Kearney’s Kilmona Holdings will build two large buildings in a new development called Lanyon Central at East Bridge Street in the city centre.

It’s due to be made up of four separate buildings, including 14-storey and 10-storey office buildings, along with two smaller buildings.

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