Business

Property developer plans 600,000 sq ft of new office space

Plans for over £200m of investment across five major sites in Belfast city centre were launched by, from left, Paddy Kearney, Kilmona Holdings; lord mayor of Belfast, Arder Carson, and Chris Wilson, Jefferies LoanCore

ONE of the north's best known property developers has announced a £200 million plan that will include building 600,000 sq ft of Grade A office space in Belfast.

And the proposals by Paddy Kearney, if realised, would significantly address the city's chronic shortage of top class office accommodation.

In a show of confidence Mr Kearney's company Kilmona Holdings unveiled the plans at a grand banquet at its newly refurbished Ten Square Hotel in the city centre on Thursday.

The company also introduced their new US funders, Jefferies LoanCare (JLC), to a packed audience that included the great and good from across the political, business, property and legal sectors.

JLC helped refinance Mr Kearney's loans from Cerberus, which bought them from Nama as part of the Project Eagle deal.

Among the most ambitious projects is two buildings encompassing 230,000 sq ft of office space at East Bridge Street.

And an extension of the Kilmona Building at Lanyon Place would add another 77,000 sq ft.

There is also a proposal to completely demolish Londonderry House and rebuild providing 75,000 sq ft of offices and 10,000 sq ft of retail space.

An extension of Centre House meanwhile would create 55,000 sq ft of additional space.

More advanced are plans to extend Ten Square into the adjacent Lancashire House providing 61,000 sq ft of office space and 71 additional bedrooms.

Mr Kearney said it was "an important day for us and for the city of Belfast".

"In recent months, we have done a lot of work to prepare plans which will transform Belfast’s office offering in the coming years. As we emerge from recession and the cut in corporation tax confirmed, the need for new high-grade office accommodation will be essential for economic growth.

"Our plan, thanks to the funding and support of Jefferies LoanCore, is to supply that office accommodation right in the heart of the city centre.

“What we’ve also managed to do in the last six weeks is completely refurbish Ten Square, a jewel in the city centre’s tourism offer.

"With new rooms, new kitchens, a new bar, restaurant and expanded function room and plans submitted for an additional 71 bedrooms, we are very confident that Ten Square has a very successful future ahead of it."

JLC managing director Chris Wilson described it as "a great day for Belfast".

"We came to Northern Ireland initially in 2014 looking for high quality borrowers and lending opportunities in an under-served market. We are delighted to be working with Pat and the Causeway Asset Management team and we are convinced that Kilmona has the personnel and the sites in Belfast City centre to bring excellent returns for our investors.

"We have lent over £350 million in Europe to date, much of it in Northern Ireland, and we consider Belfast one of our core markets. We stand ready to support Kilmona as they look to deliver their ambitious plans for growth in Belfast.”

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