Kainos sells off half of Dublin Road site for student accommodation

The site is currently home to an ethical pop-up street food venture led by Belfast-based social entrepreneur William Neill. Picture: Hugh Russell
Gary McDonald Business Editor

BELFAST technology group Kainos has sold off half of the site it bought three and a half years ago after it opted to downsize plans for a new headquarters building in the south of the city.

The IT provider, which works across the digital services and workday practice sectors, still plans to develop new headquarters at Bankmore Square on the site of the former Dublin Road Movie House cinema.

Originally it envisaged a 200,000 sq ft office development on the site, capable of accommodating the bulk of its 2,700-strong workforce.

It even entered the pre-planning process for the £40 million development in February 2020, just weeks before a global Covid-19 pandemic was declared.

But Kainos has since confirmed that, given the general move by businesses to a hybrid working model, it no longer needs a building of that scale, so is selling off half of the site to Queen's University (terms of the deal have not been disclosed) for student accommodation.

In a statement to the stock market Kainos said: "In line with its previously announced strategy, we plan to develop a new headquarters building to accommodate existing staff in a single, environmentally sustainable, purpose-built office.

"The new 80,000 sq ft building will be able to support the company’s significant future growth plans and has the capacity to accommodate up to 3,000 people."

The statement added: "The revised design for the building will only require 50 per cent of the existing site and, following a sale process, it is our intention to dispose of the remainder of the land to Queen’s University Belfast, who will use it to develop high quality student accommodation."

Kainos will now move to appoint a contractor for the construction of the new building.

It expects the project to cost between £27m and £30m, which it will fund with existing cash rather than borrowing.

Chief executive Brendan Mooney said: "This announcement is another step towards the development of our new office in Belfast.

"Our new Bankmore Square development will provide us with a larger, more sustainable office that will bring all our colleagues together in a single location and, at the same time, provide significant capacity for our future growth."

Until the development of Bankmore Square starts, the site has been home to an ethical pop-up street food venture from Belfast-based social entrepreneur William Neill.