Belfast Telegraph

Private investor snaps up Belfast office building as upturn in the market is predicted

By Margaret Canning

A major government office building in Belfast with a £5.75m asking price has been sold to a private investor.

And selling agents CBRE said the sale of Oxford and Gloucester House signalled that private investors were returning to the market.

The agency did not reveal the identity of the buyer of the Chichester Street building, which has been 100% occupied by government tenants since it was built in the Seventies. 

It’s the latest sale of a big commercial building in Belfast to a private investor. 

In February, a former Danske Bank building — now home to Visit Belfast — was sold to a private investor for over its £5.75m asking price. 

Last year Middleton Building and River House, also in the city centre, were snapped up — while Windsor House was acquired by Hastings Hotels Group. 

Oxford and Gloucester House has two interconnected buildings on seven floors.

CBRE said investors were enjoying strong yield returns and the agency has predicted that office rents will grow from £16 to £18 per sq ft during 2016. 

Capital markets director Andrew Coggins said: “So far in 2016, we have seen increased interest from local high net worth individuals wanting to invest in commercial properties.

“Investors are increasingly seeing opportunities to build a good income-producing portfolio with strong returns now that the sector is bouncing back.”

Mr Coggins said the commercial property sector was now in positive territory and was viewed as a good investment opportunity.  “These yields that we are seeing are once again making commercial property in Northern Ireland an attractive prospect to investors, with excellent returns on many properties.”

But Mr Coggins said the market still required institutional investors as well as private individuals. 

Belfast City Council recently led a delegation to international property expo MIPIM to highlight investment opportunities in the city.  “CBRE was delighted to be part of the delegation attending MIPIM to showcase the city to potential investors,” said Mr Coggins.

“The investment market in Belfast is beginning to really pique the interest of high profile individuals and investors. We believe now is the time for investors — both institutional and local, to keep Belfast strongly on their radar.”

The council has announced plans to develop the Linen Quarter as a central business district and has established a Belfast Investment Fund to help fund “landmark sites” in the city centre. 

During MIPIM it emerged that office space 9 Lanyon Place let to US firm Allstate has achieved rental of £20 per square foot. The building belongs to Kilmona Holdings, led by Paddy Kearney. 

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