£19m fund to develop office space in Belfast
Belfast City Council is offering up a pot of almost £19m to businesses to encourage the development of high-quality office space.
It's now actively seeking proposals for its £18.8m City Centre Investment Fund.
The council said it "is seeking to invest in high-quality, substantial city centre office developments and has called for expressions of interest from companies who have secured planning permission for their projects". Belfast Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister added: "Our city centre regeneration and investment strategy highlighted that the lack of grade A office space in Belfast city centre is currently a real barrier to growth.
"We've made a commitment in the Belfast Agenda to create 50,000 more jobs in the city by 2035 - and to do that, we need to attract more investment.
"By taking this partnership approach with the private sector through the City Centre Investment Fund, we can remove some of the risk for developers and make Belfast a much more attractive option for them.
"As Lord Mayor, my focus this year is very much on creating a global Belfast - and the launch of this fund will lend fresh impetus to our world-class ambitions for our city."
The council said there were three stages to the process, with firms asked to submit an "expression of interest form" first, outlining their scheme. The deadline for submissions is August 18.
Those short-listed will then be invited to progress to the subsequent stages.
It comes as the council advertises for a top £100,000 job for a "strategic director of place and economy".
The latest attempt to increase top-end office space in Belfast comes after an Invest NI report warned Northern Ireland could lose out on attracting crucial foreign direct investment due to a lack of prime office space.
The agency briefed Stormont on the concerns in 2015. It suggested it intervening in the market here to help "stimulate the development of new grade A office accommodation".
A number of major office developments are currently under way across Belfast.
That includes the City Quays development at Belfast Harbour, as well as a £65m, 12-storey office building on the Dublin Road, which will replace the Movie House cinema.
It is the brainchild of the Richland Group, headed by property developer Gary McCausland.