DEMAND FOR OFFICE SPACE CONTINUES TO GROW DESPITE UNCERTAIN TIMES AHEAD
07 December 2017There is no doubt that the continuing uncertainty surrounding devolution and the implications of a “Hard Brexit” have had an impact on the office market in Northern Ireland. This uncertainty has caused many businesses in our service and IT sectors to think long and hard about future requirements for property and possible office moves, however, it’s definitely not all doom and gloom.
I’m not sure which article I read it in, but the statement “Northern Ireland Business Finds a Way” has proved true over the course of 2017.
Many well-known local businesses have sought to push forward with the acquisition of new premises including Grant Thornton moving to 13,000 sq. ft. of prime Grade A space on Donegall Square West. The deal delivered by Osborne King on behalf of Danske Bank also reaffirmed that prime Grade a office rents sit at around £20.00 per sq. ft.
The willingness to step forward does not just sit with occupiers. Locally owned property company, Orby Investment, has agreed to construct c. 105,000 sq. ft of Grade A offices on behalf of HMRC in return for a lengthy lease agreement from the Government occupier. The details of the lease remain under wraps but it is good to see such a large “pre-let” in the Belfast market.
Newry-based First Derivatives has taken 25,000 sq. ft. on Ormeau Avenue as its Belfast base. The rent is rumoured to be in the region of £18.00 per sq ft. for newly refurbished loft- style accommodation.
It is not just larger office occupiers who have acquired new premises in 2017. Health care recruitment specialists, Lucas Love, have taken occupation of Law Society House while the adjoining unit has been let to a firm of provincial solicitors keen to cement their place in the Belfast market; they will take occupation by Q1 2018.
Whilst the majority of activity has taken place in Belfast city centre, Osborne King has secured tenants for both public and private sector landlords throughout Greater Belfast.
We are delighted to have secured a number of lettings at Mossley Mill on behalf of Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council. The roll call includes Toshiba Healthcare, McCloy Consulting and Atos, all taking advantage of the excellent quality accommodation being offered to the market. In total there have been approximately 8,000 sq. ft. of lettings at the building in 2017.
We have also acquired space on behalf of private and voluntary sector organisations. Tinylife has moved into its new office and family centre on Bloomfield Avenue, which provides the organisation with c. 6,000 sq ft. of accommodation. Furthermore, the Physio Group has acquired c. 1,700 sq. ft. in Alexander House on Ormeau Avenue having expanded its presence in Belfast.
We are currently negotiating two significant city centre office lettings with established professional service practices which should close off the year in a positive fashion. With a number of large requirements already in the market for 2018, we expect to see continued steady growth in the Belfast office sector.
Clearly the general economic uncertainty has had an impact on wider business activity, but as you can see, Northern Ireland business continues to find a way.