Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's former linen warehouse building to get new lease of life as hotel and offices

By John Mulgrew

Work is due to start later this year on redeveloping a former Belfast linen warehouse into a new hotel and 15-storey office building.

And elsewhere, property developer Paddy Kearney is planning to develop a series of huge office buildings across the city over the next few years.

That's to help meet a severe shortage of top-end office space in Belfast.

Mr Kearney's Kilmona Holdings will build two large buildings in a new development called Lanyon Central at East Bridge Street, made up of 12-storeys with 235,000 sq ft of floor space.

And he is also developing the 10-storey Chichester House on Chichester Street, which will include 70,000 sq ft of office space and 10,000 sq ft of retail.

He recently purchased a tranche of buildings in the city, including the Ten Square hotel just behind City Hall.

It was also revealed at the MIPIM property event in Cannes, that Co Tyrone's McAleer & Rushe will begin work on its 15-storey development at the old Ewarts Warehouse on Bedford Street.

That will provide additional grade A office space for the city, and is also to include the restoration of the old building itself, which is listed, including alteration, refurbishment and an extension.

Plans for a 70-bedroom hotel have also been in the works.

The existing sandstone building, which has lain empty for two decades, was designed by James Hamilton, also the architect of the Waring Street Ulster Bank, now the Merchant Hotel.

The latest major commercial property developments were revealed during a joint public and private sector trip to MIPIM in Cannes, one of the world's largest property shows.

Last year a report from Invest NI warned Northern Ireland could lose out on attracting crucial foreign direct investment (FDI) due to a lack of prime office space.

It had suggested it intervenes in the market here to help "stimulate the development of new grade A office accommodation".

And at the MIPIM event this week, it was revealed a Belfast landlord has landed their first rental level of £20 per sq ft.

Insurance giant Allstate has signed up to take on 9 Lanyon Place until 2018. The building is owned by Kilmona Holdings.

The MIPIM trip is the first time Belfast has made the visit since the property crash, and it includes some of Northern Ireland's biggest developers, such as Lagan Construction.

Those behind the trip are ambitiously aiming to attract £1bn worth of investment to Belfast over the next five years, which they say can add 30,000 new jobs.

And also at the event, the chief executive of Northern Ireland Screen, Richard Williams, said he's "well on track" to double the size of the film and television sector here over the course of the next few years.

Belfast Telegraph