Top-end companies make the right moves to boost Northern Ireland property market
A number of top-end financial and technology businesses helped round out 2017's property letting market on a high.
And while there was a slow start to 2017, with just 14 lettings in Belfast, the second half finished stronger, according to CBRE.
Major deals completed included UTV becoming anchor tenant at City Quays 2, as first revealed by the Belfast Telegraph, and First Derivatives setting up a new Belfast base at the newly-refurbished Weaving Works building at Ormeau Avenue.
"Going forward, interest in the market remains healthy and the take-up recorded in the second half of 2017 strongly supports this view," said David Wright, CBRE director.
There were 33 transactions completed in the second half of 2017, bringing the yearly total of office take-up to 430,290 sq ft.
Mr Wright said that the initial "low volume of transactions and take-up recorded in the first half of the year was not an accurate reflection of the activity" in the office market. "Take-up in the last six months has emanated from a wide range of FDI companies taking new space, as well as local companies relocating into larger office accommodation due to significant growth in their own respective businesses."
Other major deals included Grant Thornton moving in to the Danske Bank offices at Donegall Square West, and HMRC due to move into the under-construction Erskine House on Chichester Street.
Some of the new lettings are in city developments which have undergone a revamp and refit, including the Linen Loft on Adelaide Street and the Lincoln Building on Great Victoria Street.
"Refurbished properties such as Linen Loft, Flax House, The Weaving Works and Lincoln Building have delivered much needed stock into the market and the completion of River House in the second quarter of 2018 will provide a further boost to supply and choice in the market," Mr Wright said. CBRE said headline rents could rise as high as £22.50 during 2018.
New projects for 2018 include the Merchant Square building on Wellington Place, with works due to begin early this year.
And work is already well underway on the former Londonderry House, now Chichester House, in Belfast city centre.
Belfast Harbour's City Quays 2 building, which is almost completed, will soon play host to UTV and Tullett Prebon, among other businesses currently going through legal processes. Work on a third, 17-storey City Quays building is scheduled to start next year.
Meanwhile, a £400m development of Sirocco Quays in Belfast will include huge offices, apartments, along with hotels and bars and restaurants, fresh plans show.
The ambitious scheme has taken another step forward with a move to submit an outline planning application.
A £50m top-end office will become part of the overall scheme.
The huge project, based close to the Short Strand, will include 750 homes, office buildings covering 850,000 sq ft, hotel, serviced apartments, and a pedestrian and cycle bridge.