Houses in east Belfast are among the most expensive in the city, according to the University of Ulster’s most recent price index.
The average price of a home here is £136,940, second only to the south of the city, where an abode will set you back £178,399 on average, and property prices have always been at a premium.
Today’s news, however, that a multi-million development, which includes a state-of-the-art sports stadium and luxury hotel, should be manna from heaven to local residents.
While the province’s property price boom lifted the value of homes here considerably, it has been hard-hit by the subsequent bust.
Areas of east Belfast such as Belmont and the Old Holywood Road have always been highly sought after by aspirational home-owners, but the property price boom of 2006-07 brought massive gains to terrace dwellers in Sydenham and Mersey Street.
At the height of the boom humble two-up, two-down properties were changing hands for up to £200,000.
The announcement of Titanic Quarter combined with the |arrival of the Odyssey, IKEA, Sainsbury and Tesco all brought a new spirit of optimism to home-owners here who felt assured things were on the up.
Since then, however, some residents have felt that increased prosperity had come at a price, not least the rise of George Best City Airport which is mixed bag for some.
The ideal location of the airport has acted like a magnet for airlines who view progress in the form of international flights, while residents don’t want jets taking off at all hours of the night disturbing their life.
Nonetheless, business-minded people have claimed the airport will bring much-needed jobs into the area — and indeed the country.
But controversy is nothing new to this part of the city, which has always played an important part in Belfast and the province’s history. Harland & Wolff built the greatest ships the world has ever seen, including the ill-fated |Titanic, while Shorts led the world in aircraft innovation.
Both these industries provided jobs for the local population and beyond, but their subsequent |demise meant hard times, and east Belfast had to evolve.
Fast forward to the millennium and it looks like a different place as the base for the Belfast Giants ... and several retail giants too.
While the new sports stadium will mean the inevitable decline of The Oval, this site could become available for community use.
The new stadium is positive on many levels, as a tribute to local sporting heroes from east Belfast, Danny Blanchflower and George Best, who achieved sporting excellence with little or no facilities. Secondly, as an anchor for the community to continue living in east Belfast. Finally, to attract others to come and set up in business or live here.