Northern Ireland's commercial property market finishes the year strongly
The sales of prominent shopping sites including Sprucefield Retail Park helped Northern Ireland's commercial property market end 2019 in a stronger position than anticipated, it's been claimed.
A report by agency CBRE said the investment market saw an increase in transaction volumes year-on-year, with almost £212m being invested across 32 separate transactions last year.
Notable investments include Sprucefield Retail Park in Lisburn, which was bought by NewRiver for £40m, and Crescent Link Retail Park in Londonderry, bought for £30m by Manchester-based firm David Samuel Properties.
The development was being sold by Lotus Group, a business controlled by local developer Ciaran Murdock.
The Gateway Building at Titanic Quarter in Belfast was also purchased for more than £34m by Citigroup in April.
The strong end of year position has "once again proven" the market's resilience, according to commercial property agency CBRE.
Gavin Elliott, capital markets director at CBRE, said it was "encouraging to see higher investment volumes being recorded than first anticipated at the beginning of 2019".
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"With the UK likely to leave the EU on January 31, 2020, we believe that the unique position of Belfast as a pivot city between Dublin, London and Europe should begin to realise greater interest from real estate investors throughout 2020," he said.
CBRE added that office market take-up in Belfast had also performed much better than expected in 2019.
In total, take-up of 517,380 sq ft was secured over 64 transactions.
Key deals in the office market include Deloitte taking 80,000 sq ft at The Ewart at the former Ewart's Warehouse on Bedford Street.
Rapid7 signed up to 48,000 sq ft at Chichester House, while PwC took on an additional 46,000 sq ft of accommodation at Merchant Square, on top of the 155,000 sq ft agreed last year.
CBRE director David Wright said: "Over the past number of years, strong occupier activity, particularly from the technology/FDI and creative industries sectors, has helped reinforce the resilience of our office market amidst the wider economic and political challenges that Northern Ireland has faced.
"We are pleased that figures recorded in 2019 were up on the rolling five-year average, and with a number of large office requirements set to be announced," he added.