Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland investment market given opportunity as Obel offices on sale for £15m

City site home to law firm Allen & Overy among other tenants

By Margaret Canning

Offices at Belfast's tallest building with tenants including a top international law firm are now on the market for £15m.

It's understood the six-storey Obel 68, beside the 27-storey Obel, is being sold by US fund Marathon Asset Management. Marathon bought the entire Obel site four years ago for around £20m.

The offices are close to Belfast Harbour and home to law firm Allen & Overy, as well as Lagan Boat Company and Mount Charles Group, operator of coffee shop Fed & Watered on the ground floor.

A sale will act as a boost to a subdued commercial property invesment market so far this year.

Earlier this year Lisney announced it had been appointed to sell 26 fully-let studio apartments - known as Obel Studios - over three floors of the main Obel.

The Donegall Quay development was built by Northern Ireland family-run property developers Karl Group.

However, the family lost control of the site in 2012 after it was taken over by their lender, Bank of Scotland.

It was then bought by Marathon Asset Management.

However, the fund did not return a request for comment yesterday.

Lisney announced a £2m investment in improving the tower and the offices two years ago.

Nicky Finnieston, director of investment and retail at selling agents Lisney, said: "We are expecting Obel 68 to be very well received.

"The majority of investment stock available locally has been dominated by retail assets so this presents a unique opportunity.

"With the growth in the office rental market over the past couple of years and take-up for the first quarter of 2018 seeing a record 270,000 sq ft, this provides a compelling backdrop to potential investors. The quality of the Obel building, its high standard fit-out, its location overlooking the river Lagan and the level of activity around Donegall Quay and Belfast Harbour area makes this an exciting opportunity."

He said the area around Donegall Quay had seen a high volume of activity and investment.

"This includes the £25m AC Marriott Hotel which opened last month with 188 rooms as well as the highly sought-after office space at City Quays," he said.

City Quays is home to major companies like tech specialist Cayan, law firm Baker McKenzie, Golf Now and now media company UTV, which is in the process of relocating there following a move from its old home of Havelock House.

According to a Lisney report on the commercial property market, office take-up during the first quarter reached a record level with technology, digital and media firms accounting for most of the deals.

However, Lisney's report said that despite an increase in the value of investment transactions from £8m to £10m year-on-year, the investment market was nonetheless subdued.

The sale of Meadowlane shopping centre in Magherafelt was one of the biggest investment deals of the year.

But the retail sector had experienced difficulties in the first quarter, including the administrations of electrical retailer Maplin and Toys 'R' Us, and news of rent reductions and closures by fashion chain New Look.

Belfast Telegraph

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