Belfast Telegraph

Citibank's £34m deal improves picture for commercial property

Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

The biggest investment deal here in two years saw Northern Ireland's commercial property sector record its best quarter since late 2017.

But commercial property agent Lambert Smith Hampton warned that political uncertainty from the risk of a no-deal Brexit and the lack of an Assembly were still putting off buyers and sellers.

Citibank's purchase of its Gateway Office base in Belfast's Titanic Quarter for £34m in April dominated the second quarter transactions, bringing the total to £61.7m.

Although the highest total for six consecutive quarters and 10% up on the same quarter last year, commercial property transactions during the quarter still fell 22% below the five-year average, according to the Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) Investment Transactions NI Bulletin.

Other major deals included the £12.5m acquisition of Antrim Business Park, a £5.3m deal for the Timber Quay offices on Strand Road in Londonderry, the £1.6m sale of Washington House on Belfast's High Street, and a £1.4m deal for 15-17 Chichester Street, Belfast. All went to unnamed private investors from Northern Ireland.

Martin McCloy, director of capital markets at LSH, said: "While Q2 volume suggests strong performance for the Northern Irish investment market, activity was dominated by a single owner occupier deal. The lack of a local Assembly, the risk of a no-deal Brexit and the contest for the next UK Prime Minister continue to deter both vendors and buyers.

"We expect to see more activity in the latter half of 2019 with a number of opportunities currently being offered off-market and deals already in legals expected to complete in Q3."

Sign In

Office deals accounted for two-thirds of all commercial transactions over the three months.

Northern Ireland property investment firm Alterity was also involved in the second quarter, paying £2.6m for CD Group on Blackwater Road, Mallusk.

Portview House in Belfast was also bought by a private investor in the Republic for £1.3m.

Industrial acquisitions totalled £17.3m, exceeding the annual totals recorded in Northern Ireland for the last decade.

Total investment in the first half of the year stood at £104.6m, the first time NI breached £100m in the first half since 2016. LSH said that based on current deals, Northern Ireland should pass the £170m mark in the third quarter.

However, retail accounted for only 2% of all deals in 2019 so far.

Belfast Telegraph