Upcoming city centre developments suggest a promising new year
THE commercial property sector within Belfast has remained resilient over the past number of years, in spite of the many challenges the Northern Irish economy has thrown its way not least the ongoing confusion surrounding Brexit
2018 closed its doors on a successful 12 months, and from what we know already, 2019 is looking promising.
There are a number of new developments presently in planning or construction, and these will shape the market over the next 12-18 months.
Firstly, the Belfast Region City Deal partners recently welcomed an £850 million investment, which is hoped will create up to 20,000 jobs, alongside delivering a 10-year programme of inclusive economic growth. The investment will focus on innovation and digital infrastructure, as well as tourism and regeneration.
Work now restarted on Ulster University's new £250m campus in Belfast city centre, situated in the artistic Cathedral Quarter, is scheduled to be ready for occupation by 2021. With phase one of the construction process complete and phase two underway, the development has already sparked significant investment in Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) and will serve as a catalyst for the city's regeneration.
Office space development looks once again to be encouraging in the next twelve months with work continuing on the 200,000 sq ft Merchant Square development in the city centre. In addition, the Harbour Commissioners are proceeding with plans for City Quays 3, a 16-storey 250,000 sq ft office development which will be one of the largest Grade A office developments to be built in Northern Ireland. With an estimated cost of £50m, this development will create approximately 600 construction jobs, further bolstering the economic prosperity of the region.
The construction of Belfast Waterside, a £400m scheme comprising of residential (750 units), offices, hotels, serviced apartments, restaurants, cafes, local retail, community space and public open spaces, is also scheduled to start in 2019.
Let's not forget the proposed new transport hub for Belfast “ Weavers Cross”. The site for the proposed development has been cleared and once complete it will become a dynamic new city centre neighbourhood with a world class public transport hub at its heart.
Weavers Cross, will be situated on the site of the existing Europa Bus Centre and Great Victoria Street train station, and will offer huge investment potential - accommodating over 100,000 sqm of commercial space alongside significant residential and amenity space. Works are due to begin early next year, and are scheduled to reach completion by 2022.
Notwithstanding the current political uncertainty it is likely that the majority of the above developments will go ahead, and if they do it is likely that 2019 will be a successful year for the commercial property sector in Northern Ireland.
:: Declan Flynn is managing director of Belfast-based commercial property agency Lisney, which works on behalf of many of Northern Ireland's most significant investors and developers as well as major retailers and businesses.