Demand to continue for co-working space in NI
Office property in Northern Ireland is becoming increasingly dominated by tech and digital companies, according to commercial property agents Lisney.
A new report from the company found a record 885,000 sq ft of office space taken up here last year, with £165m worth of transactions recorded.
The sale of the Bow Street Mall for £12.25m was among the largest deals recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018, although the sale price was well below the original asking price of £18m.
Lisney said its research found a pressing demand for serviced offices and co-working spaces, which is expected to continue in the years to come.
Declan Flynn, managing director of Lisney Northern Ireland, said: "Dublin has seen an incredible 93% increase in co-working space take-up within the last 18 months, having already made its way north. We believe this trend will remain and could trigger a structural shift within the general office market."
Lisney's latest commercial property report said more than £100m worth of new investment property came onto the market in the last three months of 2018.
It said a lack of new office stock in Northern Ireland remained an issue last year.
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Despite a number of refurbishments projects planned here, the commercial property agents said the limited availability of offices over the 20,000 sq ft mark is likely to continue.
In the retail market, Lisney said 60,000 sq ft of new openings in Belfast last year helped inject some life back into the city centre.
However, the considerable amount of industrial space taken up (more than two million sq ft) reflected the changing way people are choosing to shop.
Lisney said the bulk of industrial units have been for retail distribution centres, enabling high speed delivery to customers.
"It's no secret 2018 has been a testing year for retail in Belfast, with completely unexpected circumstances thrust upon the city centre," said Mr Flynn.
"Not surprisingly, activity has been slower than anticipated. However, there is evidence of a number of retailers pursuing new opportunities on our high streets, shopping centres and retail parks.
"Irish department store Guineys opened its doors in Belfast, as did Matalan in CastleCourt, and out-of-town Brand Max, the Mike Ashley-owned discount fashion retailer, entered the Northern Ireland market in Connswater Shopping Centre."