Belfast Telegraph

New Belfast office block gets green light after two years

Developer and city council seal deal for The Mercantile

The proposed Mercantile building
The proposed Mercantile building
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

A Belfast developer has been given the go-ahead for a £14m, nine-storey city centre office building, almost two years after planning officials first recommended approval.

Killultagh Estates said it had finally reached agreement with Belfast City Council on a financial package to mitigate the impact of its building project.

Construction on The Mercantile at Donegall Square South could now begin in June.

The 73,000 sq ft glass-fronted structure was originally given the thumbs-up by planners in August 2017. Planners had requested that a floor be removed from the plan.

Killultagh's proposal involves the demolition of the existing six-storey office block between Bank of Ireland and the Metro building at the back of Belfast City Hall, and replacing it with two basement levels and eight floors of offices.

The final approval for the project was withheld until last week owing to protracted negotiations over the size of a financial contribution to be paid by the developer to Belfast City Council.

The agreement under section 76 of the Planning Act (NI) 2011 relates to a settlement to mitigate the impact of the new building on the city's public realm.

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Building industry monitor CIS has valued Killutagh's new project at around £14m.

Speaking yesterday, Laura McCarthy, senior asset manager at Killultagh Estates, said: "We are already in discussions with a number of potential occupiers and we are aiming for full construction to commence in early June." Killultagh Estates is part of Frank Boyd's Killultagh Holdings group, which includes a range of property and retail investments, such as the Castlebawn and Connswater shopping centres.

The latest accounts for the group show it posted a pre-tax profit of £59.3m for the year to March 31 2018. It followed a £41.6m loss the previous year.

The profit was largely derived from £65.9m of loans being written off during the reporting period.

It reduced Killultagh Holdings' net deficit at the end of the year from £176.4m to £117.1m.

Its investment properties were valued at £84.6m.

Belfast Telegraph

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