Belfast Telegraph

Belfast £12m riverside office block with apartments plan for Gasworks site


By John Mulgrew

A Northern Ireland property developer is set to build a £12m waterfront office block and cafe in south Belfast, it can be revealed.

Cromac Quay Ltd wants to build the new scheme at the Gasworks on Ormeau Road.

Local property developer Francis Jennings is among those behind the ambitious development.

The developer is now hosting a community consultation event ahead of seeking full planning permission.

John Smylie, director of Placelab, which is designing the building, said the riverside property will include 100,000sq ft of space.

"The offices will have views over the park. It is mixed use, office-led, with around 100,000sq ft," he said.

"We have a coffee shop in there, quite a large one, and we also have a covered arcade at the site which will overlook the existing walkway.

"We are trying to enhance (the area). It is not some sort of paper exercise. The client is committed to doing something positive with the site.

"On the roof, we will have some apartments. It's a mixed-use development, so there will be the residential bit, it's south-west facing, fantastic views over the park and river.

"It is a prestigious and well-designed scheme, and one that has, at its core, the concept of place making."

Planning consultancy Wyg is also working on the project, along with civil engineers Taylor & Boyd.

The building will sit beside the existing Lloyds Banking Group call and sales centre. The new development is the latest in a series of major proposed schemes across the city to meet demand for top-end office space.

Belfast Harbour has just completed a £22m office development as part of its City Quays initiative.

The nine-storey City Quays 2, which can accommodate up to 1,000 people, was built by Lagan Building Contractors in less than 18 months.

It will play host to a number of firms, including financial services giant Tullett Prebon, and will be the new headquarters of broadcaster UTV. Both of the lettings were first revealed by the Belfast Telegraph.

And the renovation of Belfast building Chichester House is creating 150 construction jobs as part of an £8m investment. The Belfast project, which is expected to be completed by late 2018, will bring 46,000sq ft of office space and 5,000sq ft of modern retail space to the Northern Ireland market.

Belfast City Council is also offering up a pot of almost £19m to businesses to encourage the development of high-quality office space.

It's actively seeking proposals for its £18.8m City Centre Investment Fund.

The latest attempt to increase top-end office space in Belfast comes after an Invest NI report warned Northern Ireland could lose out on attracting crucial foreign direct investment due to a lack of prime office space.

The agency briefed Stormont on the concerns in 2015.

It suggested intervening in the market here to help "stimulate the development of new grade A office accommodation".

Other schemes include a £65m, 12-storey office building on the Dublin Road, which will replace the Movie House cinema.

Belfast Telegraph