SANTANDER has confirmed it will relocate the base of its Northern Ireland operation to the City Quays 3 office tower at Belfast Harbour.
The banking business, ultimately owned by Spain’s Santander Group, has been based at Mays Meadow, next to Lanyon Place Train Station, since January 1999.
But the group won’t be extending its 25-year lease and will instead move into Belfast Harbour’s £50 million high rise waterfront development later this year.
It comes as the owner of the Mays Meadow site put the four-storey building on East Bridge Street on the market for £6.5m.
A listing brochure, produced by CBRE NI, reveals that Santander has been paying £930,000 per year to rent the 57,200 sq ft of office space next to the Albert Bridge.
It’s understood Santander will move into City Quays 3 towards the end of 2023.
It’s a major boost for the 16 storey building's landlord, Belfast Harbour.
- Report reveals 1.24 million square feet of empty office space on the NI market
- North lost 27 per cent of total bank branch network in three years
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- Investec Wealth & Investment relocates Belfast office to City Quays 3
Most of the floors range between 13,000 and 14,000 sq ft of office accommodation, more than four times the size of Santander’s current headquarters in Belfast.
Microsoft has also been linked with a move to the 250,000 sq ft City Quays 3.
Belfast City Council has already granted planning permission for a new rooftop sign bearing the tech giant’s logo to be installed on the building.
Documents published on the planning portal are labelled ‘MS Belfast relocation’.
US insurance firm Aflac was announced as the first tenant for the City Quays 3 development in late 2021, taking on 20,000 sq ft.
The Belfast arm of Investec Wealth & Investment moved into the 15th floor earlier this year, while health tech firm B Secur has also taken up space.
Santander is potentially the trust port’s biggest confirmed tenant to date.
With 21 branches, the group currently operates the north’s third biggest retail banking network.
Only Danske Bank and Ulster Bank have more branches.
Meanwhile, property firm CBRE NI has been tasked with finding a new owner for Santander’s current offices.
Its Belfast office director, David Wright, said the sale of the Mays Meadow building, which includes 56 basement car parking spaces, is expected to trigger significant interest.
The current oversupply of office space in the city post-pandemic means it could be redeveloped for alternative uses.
“City centre development opportunities in Belfast continue to be few and far between coming to market,” said Mr Wright.
“One Mays Meadow will therefore be an attractive proposition for investors and developers,” he said.
“Whilst the property has been used as office accommodation since its construction in 1999, the site lends itself to purpose built student accommodation, life sciences or even a boutique hotel, and it is this potential for diverse uses which we expect will drive interest in the asset.”