New £30m Allstate office for its 1,300 staff 'shows US firm's commitment to Northern Ireland'
Insurance giant Allstate has broken ground on its new £30m headquarters in Belfast, which will house the firm's 1,300 staff.
The six-storey building will be based close to Central Station in the city centre, and will create 150 construction jobs over the next two years.
The development will feature sociable working spaces, a restaurant, outdoor terrace and software development labs.
US-owned Allstate bought the land from Belfast City Council last year in a deal worth approximately £1.7m.
The office building is being developed by architects WDR & RT Taggart in partnership with Newry construction company O'Hare & McGovern.
Allstate NI is the largest IT employer in Northern Ireland and has offices in Belfast, Londonderry and Strabane.
It was set up in 1998 as Northbrook Technology, before being re-branded 10 years later under the Allstate banner.
The Northern Ireland company provides software development services and business solutions for its parent firm.
Visiting the new site in Belfast yesterday, Allstate's executive vice-president Suren Gupta said Northern Ireland was "an excellent source for talent, and the Allstate NI employees play a vital role in our strategic global technology delivery model".
"Our investment in this new flagship office in Belfast demonstrates our commitment to Northern Ireland," he added.
The area of the site extends to around 1.8 acres to the rear of the former Maysfield Leisure Centre, close to Central Station.
In October, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that call centre firm Concentrix, which is currently converting the nearby Maysfield Leisure Centre into its new base, raised a series of objections to Allstate's plans for headquarters nearby.
Allstate NI's managing director John Healy said: "The new Belfast office will be a ground-breaking facility for Allstate. The new development increases the size of our current Belfast office and gives us the opportunity to create an inspirational working space fit for a world-class technology organisation with a commitment to innovation, imagination and building digital technology of the future."
Also attending yesterday's official start of work on the new office was Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, who said the firm had been "a significant part of the business landscape here for almost 20 years".
"It's great to see that the company is continuing to invest in Northern Ireland," he added.
"The fact that they are choosing to locate this impressive headquarters in Belfast demonstrates confidence in our highly educated workforce, competitive cost base and our research and development capability.
"This is further proof that Northern Ireland is an attractive base for award-winning international companies.
"My number one priority is to attract more and better jobs to Northern Ireland. I want our brightest and best young people to be able to find their dream job here rather than having to leave in search of work."
Meanwhile, Concentrix has started work on its own office building nearby at Maysfield Leisure Centre.
The new base, which is located a short distance away from their current offices, will accommodate up to 1,600 staff.
The company is expected to continue to grow its workforce over the next couple of years.
The new building is the first to be wholly owned by the US business in Belfast. Concentrix first set up in the city in 2011 after it bought Gem, a Northern Ireland call centre company that was co-founded by Philip Cassidy in 2000.
At the time, the firm employed approximately 700 people. Since then, Concentrix has more than doubled that workforce.
That is also expected to increase with the company's new base.