Active Belfast

A recent report on the Belfast office market by CBRE revealed record high levels of take-up at 232,000 sq ft from 31 midsize-large deals in the 6 months to July 2016. This was an increase of 165% based on the first half of 2015.

CBRE expect take-up in the remainder of 2016 to remain strong as a good number of deals are ‘under offer’, coupled with the large volume of requirements. CBRE estimate 750,000 sq ft of requirements for the Belfast market, mainly from existing occupiers looking to expand.

Metropolis is currently tracking around 20 requirements from medium or large companies looking for office space in Belfast.

Professional services firms and the public sector make up the majority of the existing requirements. Recent announced moves include lettings to Navinet, Liberty IT, PuppetLabs, Tourism NI, Regus, Genesys, BRS Golf, Genpact, Citi, Arup, EY and Shopkeep.com. Announced expansions include SpotXi, Manage, HighWire Press Inc, Sixty-5, Pearson Management Services and Alert Logic. PwC adding a further 21,200 sq ft to their existing base in Waterfront Plaza. Tullett Prebon intend to develop a new technology centre and create up to 300 new jobs in Belfast.

There is some 800,000 sq ft of available office space in Belfast in July 2016, down 66,500 sq ft over six months. The amount of existing Grade A space is 141,300 sq ft. Schemes due for imminent completion include Linen Lofts in Adelaide Street and Lincoln Building on Great Victoria Street. Both schemes are attracting letting interest. Construction work continues on the 96,000 sq ft City Quays 2 at Belfast Harbour for Q1 2017 completion. Around 215,000 sq ft of Grade A offices are to be developed at Bedford Square by McAleer & Rushe. An application to redevelop 35-47 Donegall Place in Belfast to provide additional Grade A office accommodation has also recently been made. Consent has been gained to build two office blocks at a £55m development on East Bridge Street.

Looking ahead, local agents say the effects of the Brexit decision are still unclear, however, the early signs are that long-term requirements are still moving ahead .

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Requirements in Belfast

A recent report by CBRE suggested that a rise in the number of office deals in Belfast is approaching, as a number of occupiers look to secure more space.

Belfast office lettings in the first half of 2014 barely reached 100,000 sq ft in just over 20 transactions. This total was less than half the 200,000 sq ft of office deals that were signed in the second half of 2013 in the city. Recent lettings have included office space being taken by Deloitte, Cowen Financial, Scottish and Southern Energy, Grant Thornton and Herbert Smith Freehills. Meanwhile the British Council and Pharmalink Consulting have agreed moves to ‘The Boat’ office building.

However, news of recent job creation by Alexander Mann, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Options, WAVTEQ, CVS Caremark and Spence and Partners, amongst others suggests more demand for new and expanded office space to come. Metropolis has spoken to these companies and a raft of plans to take more office space in the city have been revealed (details on our database).

There are high profile searches ongoing from accountancy firms EY and Deloitte who both require up to 60,000 sq ft of office space; as well as office space requirements from companies such as Concentrix, Capita and Proofpoint. There are also a lot of sub-10,000 sq ft potential movers, as well as continuing investment from a number of US-based companies and a number of UK companies looking to set up lower cost regional operations.

The largest office scheme under construction is the 68,000 sq ft speculative City Quays scheme; while the 150,000 sq ft Olympic Building has gained consent and the 124,000 sq ft City Quays 2 building is at application stage.