Kainos downsizes plan for Belfast's £7m Movie House site
The new flagship headquarters of tech firm Kainos could soon house 1,000 staff in Belfast.
The IT consulting and software company yesterday confirmed a £7.05m deal to buy the Movie House Cinema's Bankmore Square site on the Dublin Road.
The cinema is to close at the end of May.
Planning permission is already in place for a 250,000 sq ft 12-storey office complex on the site.
But Kainos chief executive Brendan Mooney has confirmed that the company will soon submit its own planning application for an office complex of around half that size.
He said the new development is expected to total around 110,000-115,000 sq ft and be ready by 2021.
"Our expectation is that we don't need a building of that size on the site," he said.
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"It will be a similar height, but about half the footprint of what the original plan was."
Mr Mooney disclosed that the Kainos staff and leadership have been left frustrated after a number of negotiations for major office lease agreements elsewhere in Belfast had fallen through in the past four years.
The IT company employs 1,400 people, but Belfast remains the centre of its activities, with 650 staff.
However, the frustration for Kainos lies in the fact that its operation here is spread across nine buildings on three different sites in the city.
The chief executive said the company plans to initially take 65,000 sq ft and sub-let the rest of the new office block. As the company grows, the expectation is for Kainos to expand throughout the rest of the structure.
It represents the latest major regeneration scheme along the Dublin Road and Bedford Street thoroughfare into Belfast city centre.
Describing Bankmore Square as a gateway into the city centre, Mr Mooney said: "There is regeneration happening right along the Dublin Road. But for us, we are focused on getting the right accommodation for our staff.
"We're not a developer, but we've bought the site because we want to get control over the site and over the date we can move in. We're really thinking about getting the right accommodation for the 650 people who are here today. And if you think about our growth over the next few years, it's about creating space for 300-400 more people.
"That's predicated on business levels and the availability of talent. But we are in our ninth consecutive year of growth in our staff numbers. We are very confident about the future."