Belfast Telegraph

Belfast luxury flats site to become offices


By John Mulgrew

A luxury apartment development for Belfast city centre now looks dead in the water after plans emerged to build office space on the site.

The 75-flat Matic building was to have included a 22-metre pool, private gym, 24-hour concierge service and four penthouses.

Indeed, an initial tranche of apartments at the planned development sold out in 24 hours when put on the market in May last year.

However, those who had put down deposits were to be disapointed when developers said they had "made a commercial decision not to proceed immediately with construction".

They said the delay was down to "design, structural and cost implications".

Now Co Down developer Wirefox is to redevelop Oxford House and Gloucester House, as well as the narrow site due to have become the Matic.

Fresh plans by Wirefox, which is headed by BJ Eastwood, show that the revamp of the buildings into top-end grade A office space, include developing the area that is currently being used as a car park.

The Matic was to have been built and run by Village Homes NI.

Luxury penthouses in the building would have cost up to £300,000 each.

The developer behind the scheme, Alan Fraser, admitted last September that the plans had been held up.

He said in a statement that the development would be delayed until this year.

"The developer has chosen to reapply for planning permission to substantially increase the number of sub-building parking spaces to accommodate demand from interested buyers," the statement added.

However, with new plans for the site that now looks unlikely.

It's understood those interested buyers who had put down deposits have had them refunded.

The developer was contacted for comment but did not respond.

A consultation process is now being carried out by the new developers of the Oxford and Gloucester buildings on Chichester Street.

The buildings and adjacent lands, which will be renamed The Paper Exchange, will be redeveloped to create 200,000sq ft of new office space.

They say around 100 jobs will be created during the £45m construction phase.

It's expected to hold around 2,000 office workers once finished.

Wirefox investment director Steven Flannery said: "The shortage of grade A office space in Belfast has been well publicised. The proposed development will provide a best-in-class office in a core central business district area of the city."

Architect Emma Murtagh said: "The design for The Paper Exchange is committed to using the highest quality materials, that are rich in colour and texture.

"This innovative approach to urban design will create a spacious and light interior providing an attractive and highly appealing place to work in the city."

Belfast Telegraph