Speculation NIE could move as property firm told to find it new office
Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) is looking for a new office in Belfast to house hundreds of its employees.
The power company is seeking up to 30,000 sq ft of space in the greater city area.
Commercial property firm Lambert Smith Hampton has been appointed to seek appropriate premises.
NIE employs around 350 people, and has its headquarters on the Malone Road.
Stuart Draffin, director and head of agency for Lambert Smith Hampton in Belfast, said: "We are delighted to be acting for NIE.
"We are actively reviewing a range of offices, including new buildings, refurbishments and existing buildings in the greater Belfast area.
"We expect to report to the client by the middle of April."
A spokeswoman for NIE added: "NIE owns and leases a number of properties across Northern Ireland, and is reviewing its office portfolio."
It is not clear if the company will retain its current base in the city or whether it will add staff once it gets a new office.
NIE is one of a number of local large businesses in seeking new headquarters and offices in the area.
Citigroup, which employs around 1,500 people here, is looking for new headquarters.
There had been speculation that the newly announced £26.5m Olympic House office development in the Titanic Quarter could be one option for the company. Citi's main base is located nearby at the Gateway Offices.Titanic Quarter Ltd and Belfast Harbour said Olympic House would be an 148,000 sq ft office development situated next to the Public Record Office and Belfast Metropolitan College.
Financial services business Deloitte is also looking for new office space in Belfast city centre.
To meet growing demand for top-end office space, a number of major projects are currently under way and going through the planning process.
That includes the demolition of the Movie House cinema on Dublin Road, which is to be replaced by a 12-storey block capable of holding 3,000 staff.
According to developer the Richland Group, it will be the largest office building in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, developer Paddy Kearney has been given planning permission for a £55m office. The Lanyon Central project will be built beside Central Station.
Elsewhere, work will soon finish on City Quays 2, part of the major waterside redevelopment at Belfast Harbour.
Tenders have already been issued for the next phase, the 17-storey City Quays 3 building.
Nine office developments, making up 618,000sq ft of space, are under way in the city.
Meanwhile, top-end office letting in Belfast increased by 40% over the last year.
The latest end-of-year figures showed 435,000sq ft of office space was let during 2016. The figure was up 36%, based on a five-year average.
The biggest deal of the last quarter was the letting of the Soloist building to professional services firm KPMG. It is understood a figure of £21.50 a square foot was agreed.
Other major deals included law firm Axiom, which took 26,100sq ft of office space at the refurbished Lincoln Building.