Demand for office space in Northern Ireland up 60%
CBRE chief calls for enterprise zone to speed up supply
Northern Ireland will be at a competitive disadvantage if action is not taken to provide more high-end office space in Belfast, a firm of commercial property agents said.
Brian Lavery, the head of the Belfast office of CBRE, said action by the Executive such as the introduction of an enterprise zone was needed to maintain the supply of good premises for inward investors. He spoke as CBRE's latest market view showed that office take-up between January and June this year is up nearly 60% on the second half of 2012.
Four out of 24 transactions in the city centre were of spaces over 10,000ft, with Land and Property Services, part of the Department of Finance and Personnel, taking 98,000 sq ft at Lanyon Plaza near the Waterfront Hall.
Mr Lavery welcomed the increase in office take-up but said more was needed. The update said Belfast now has only two buildings with over 30,000 sq ft available at the Gateway Building at Titanic Quarter and The Soloist.
"This signals we are at a crisis point as we need more grade A office space for further inward investment."
He pointed to a large number of properties in parts of the city centre, including the Cathedral Quarter and Titanic Quarter, where there were buildings which could be updated to provide high-end offices. But without such renovation, Northern Ireland could lose out on investment.
"Some kind of government incentive or enterprise zone will be required to speed up the pace of new offices," he said.
Lanyon Plaza and The Soloist are neighbouring developments by William Ewart Properties which have received £15m funding from the Republic's bad bank, Nama. Law firm Pinsent Masons is set to move into The Soloist later this year when the building is completed with the help of Nama's funding.
CBRE's update highlighted other movements in the office market so far this year, including the expansion of IT giant Allstate at 9 Lanyon Place, and the decision of IT firm Aepona to take space at Beacon House in Clarendon Dock after its acquisition by Intel.
Belfast Harbour is planning a 65,000 sq ft building in the Harbour Estate – to be known as City Quays 1 – which is due to be completed by October 2014.
And Turkington Holdings has put its Law Society House and an office building on Dublin Road on the market for £3.5m and £1.1m respectively.
10,000 sq ft
A sixth of all transactions in six months to June was for space over 10,000 sq ft62,000 sq ft
The office space on offer at City Quays 1 – a new development at the Harbour Estate£3.5m
The cost of Law Society House which has been placed on the market