Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Belfast's Obel tower, the tallest building in Ireland, is sold for more than £20m

The Obel development in Belfast has been sold
The Obel development in Belfast has been sold

Ireland's tallest building, the Obel development in Belfast, was sold yesterday for over £20m, it is understood.

The Obel development on Donegall Quay, which includes Ireland's tallest building, is believed to have been snapped up by a large US company with international creditionals.

It is thought that 15 parties were vying to buy the complex, but that four offering in excess of £20m were shortlisted.

The exact sale price has not been disclosed, and the identity of the buyer is being kept confidential.

Eamonn Murphy of Murphy Surveyors said the building had provoked a "healthy amount of interest".

He said he thought the 14 unsuccessful parties would now be seeking to invest in other buildings and assets.

Mr Murphy said he expected a US buyer would have been impressed that international law firm Allen & Overy was leasing part of the building.

The loan sale was handled by property consultants Savills and law firm Tughans on behalf of Bank of Scotland.

The Obel has been described as a complex comprising of 52,462 sq ft of grade A office accommodation and 282 luxury apartments.

It was effectively repossessed in November 2012 as the developers, Donegall Quay Limited, owed Bank of Scotland almost £48m. The property was launched on the market at the beginning of March.

Savills has estimated that it will produce a gross income of over £2.2 million per annum.

Ben Turtle, director of investments at Savills Northern Ireland, revealed that the sale took over a month to complete.

"We expected the Obel to generate significant interest when we brought it to the market and that is exactly what transpired," he said.

"It has taken just over a month for the sale to complete, which highlights the growing popularity of Belfast and Northern Ireland as a location for property investment.

"Investment property transactions in Northern Ireland reached £175m last year – more than the combined total of transactions since the start of the downturn.

"However, with economic conditions improving, and investor confidence in Northern Ireland rising, we expect the figure to be much higher this year."

While David Jones, property partner with legal firm Tughans, said the sale was good for the local economy.

"The completion of this loan sale represents significant inward investment in the property sector and a very encouraging sign for the local economy," he said.

"Tughans has worked on behalf of funders Bank of Scotland from the development stage of the Obel building in 2008, through administration with KPMG in 2012, and more recently in the competitive tender process to identify potential buyers.

"Our team of specialist lawyers working across the banking, property and insolvency departments within Tughans brought the deal to completion with interest generated by 25 different parties as a result of a targeted marketing campaign."

The Obel comprises three separate blocks; Obel 62 is a 28-storey residential tower comprising 233 apartments; Obel 64 is an 8-storey residential block comprising 49 apartments, and Obel 68 is a 7-storey commercial block comprising 52,462 sq ft primarily of grade A office accommodation.

A one bedroom apartment in the complex is currently being offered for sale online for £99,950.

The Obel was first launched onto the market in 2005 when dozens of apartments were sold off-plan, mainly to buy-to-let investors.

BACKGROUND

Construction started on the ambitious Obel tower project at Donegall Quay during the dying days of the property boom in 2006. After some interruption during the construction process, it was completed in 2011 at a cost of £60m and became the tallest building in Ireland, overtaking Windsor House.

It includes 233 apartments in the high rise tower, but also hosts a number of businesses on lower floors, including international law firm Allen & Overy and the Mount Charles operated eaterie Fed and Watered. Administrators were appointed to Obel Ltd in 2012, Obel Offices Ltd and Donegall Quay Ltd.

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