Record Belfast office take up levels reported in 2018

Notable deals completed in 2018 included the sale of The Metro Building for £21.9m
Gareth McKeown

BELFAST office take up levels rose to record levels last year, according to new research.

The latest Lisney Commercial Property Report shows a take up of 885,000 sq ft by the end of 2018, largely driven by tech and digital firms

The commercial property agents expect the demand for serviced offices and co-working spaces to fuel further growth in the market over the coming years, although concerns remain over a lack of new office stock.

Declan Flynn, managing director of Lisney Northern Ireland expects Belfast to follow the example of Dublin, which has experienced exponential growth in co-working space.

“Dublin has seen an incredible 93 per cent increase in co-working space take up within the last 18 months and having already made its way north, we believe this trend will remain and could trigger a structural shift within the general office market.”

The latest report covering 2018 shows an increase in the value of investment transactions, rising by 10 per cent over the year to £165 million.

Notable deals completed in 2018 included the Belfast sales of The Metro Building for £21.9m and Obel 68 for £15.2m.

The final three months of the year were boosted by the £12.3m sale of Bow Street Mall in Lisburn, while the report states that over £100m of new investment product came to market in this period.

As expected the retail sector suffered due to a decline in footfall in the second half of the year following the Primark fire, with prime retail vacancy rates in Belfast increasing from 9.1 per cent in 2017 to 10.2 per cent.

“It's no secret 2018 has been a testing year for retail in Belfast with completely unexpected circumstances thrust upon the city centre," Mr Flynn said.

“Not surprisingly activity has been slower than anticipated. However, there is evidence of a number of retailers pursuing new opportunities on our high streets, shopping centres and retail parks."

Looking ahead there is confidence about the market performance in 2019.

"Opportunities do exist in Northern Ireland with emerging supply of refurbished and new stock and we are forecasting further growth in interest within the private rented sector, student accommodation and serviced apartment sectors," Mr Flynn added

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