£10.7m office block at former Army base 'can be catalyst for 640 jobs'
A developer has said a £10.7m office block proposed for Londonderry can be the catalyst for attracting more foreign direct investment to the city by creating 640 jobs.
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The Executive Office has granted £3.5m in grant aid to Heron Bros for the project at the former Ebrington Barracks, which is geared at addressing regional imbalances.
The Draperstown firm has now submitted a planning application for 50,000 sq ft and 30,000 sq ft grade A office buildings, stepped over a number of levels at the gateway to the site in Derry's Waterside.
The business case accompanying the application says while tenants have yet to be secured, the building will be designed for the IT and financial services sector.
It also states the development could eventually generate £17m in wages annually. It follows the 628 digital jobs announced for Derry last year by firms including FinTru, Danske Bank and Alchemy Technology Services.
Heron Bros said a minimum of 120 jobs will be involved in the construction phase, with around £6.8m of work sub-contracted, most of it to firms in the north west. The scheme could also generate around £500,000 in rates for Derry City and Strabane District Council.
A report submitted with the application claimed "failures" in the provision of suitable office space in the city was limiting the potential for attracting foreign direct investment.
"There is a gap in the provision of grade A office space and this proposal is ideally located to capitalise upon this shortfall and to address the failures that currently exist within the Londonderry office market," it said.
"This development represents a massive opportunity to create a grade A office building which is required in order to attract foreign direct investment into a region which is suffering from record levels of unemployment.
"This development can be the catalyst to reinvigorate the economy of Derry and help to position the north west as the destination of choice for large foreign direct inverstment projects and expanding indigenous business."