Belfast Telegraph

Olympic House office block may be finished in two years

By Margaret Canning

Plans for a new £26.5m office development in Belfast's Titanic Quarter capable of housing 1,500 people have been unveiled. Titanic Quarter Ltd and Belfast Harbour said Olympic House would be an 148,000 sq ft office development, situated next to the Public Record Office and Belfast Metropolitan College.

The companies announced their plans yesterday at MIPIM, an annual property investment conference in Cannes in the south of France.

While Olympic House won planning permission in 2014, it is understood the parties chose to announce the development at MIPIM to reach as wide an international audience as possible.

Last year the parties resolved a legal struggle over their entitlement to develop land in the area, and yesterday they described Olympic House as a "joint venture".

The building, named after one of the Titanic's sister ships, will have two blocks of six and seven-storey offices. Work is due to start in the autumn and scheduled to finish 18 months later.

It is understood the people behind the scheme hope to attract new inward investors and convince existing firms to move.

Broadcaster UTV is expected to relocate across the Lagan at City Quays - another Belfast Harbour development.

Belfast Harbour chief executive Roy Adair said: "The continued development of the Titanic Quarter is a major opportunity to expand Belfast's global reputation as a location characterised by some of the best-designed Grade A office space in Europe.

"Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter Ltd will co-develop Olympic House via a new joint venture. It's a partnership approach which marks the start of ambitious plans for the second phase of Titanic Quarter's ongoing development."

Meanwhile, the chief executive of one of the world's biggest banks has said his firm is committed to Belfast.

James Bardrick, Citi's country officer for the UK and chief executive of Citigroup Global Markets, said the business did not anticipate scaling back operations in the city because of the Brexit vote, and could even increase staff numbers.

Citi opened offices in the Titanic Quarter in 2004. It employs around 2,200 people there and in three other Northern Ireland locations.

Before June's EU referendum, UK Citi staff were told a leave vote could hamper the company's operations.

But at MIPIM yesterday, Mr Bardrick said: "Having had a presence in Belfast for a decade, we have seen a direct link between Citi's strong performance in Northern Ireland and the exceptional quality of our people there. We don't see that changing as a result of Brexit."

Belfast Telegraph