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Hotels and eateries put spring in the step of market

brian lavery

Around £142.5m has been ploughed into Northern Ireland's commercial property market, including investment from some new entrants to the market, according to a report by CBRE.

And the second half of the year would see more successes, CBRE said, with £90m in transactions still in legals and more assets being prepared for sale.

New restaurants were also in the offing, with openings planned by US burger chain Five Guys, UK American diner chain Coast to Coast and UK Italian-style chain restaurants Ask/Zizzi.

The report also said Italian chain Carluccio's, founded by flamboyant celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio, was planning to open in Belfast - but a spokesman for the eatery said there were "no concrete details".

Recent big investment buys mentioned in the report include the sale of Clarendon House by McAleer & Rushe to Belfast City Council for £34.7m, while the Hastings Hotel Group snapped up Windsor House for £6.5m.

The Executive had also bought five office buildings in Belfast - Laganside House, Clare House, Seatem House, 2-4 Bruce Street and Causeway Exchange, spending more than £25m in total.

And there was evidence of demand in retail, with the sale of Erneside Shopping Centre in Enniskillen to Tristan Capital and Ellandi for £34.25m.

There was also confirmation of UK chain Patisserie Valerie's plans to open in Northern Ireland in the former Jaeger store at Donegall Square West, while US shoe chain Skechers will set up shop in Donegall Place.

Brian Lavery, managing director of CBRE Belfast, said: "The report has reinforced that Northern Ireland's position in commercial property for 2015 remains strong and that it will only improve with the promising second half of the year.

"With a number of transactions currently being finalised or in legals, the focus for the coming months is likely to be on bringing these to completion and preparations for the sales campaigns that will be launched this autumn."

Hotel transactions had also been strong, he said, with further deals as well as Hastings' Windsor House purchase, such as Beannchor's plans to develop Lagan House into a 55-room hotel.

Belfast Telegraph