Of­fice block sale ‘op­por­tu­nity to ex­ploit rental growth’ in city

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY EMMA DEIGHAN

A PRIME of­fice block in Belfast city cen­tre — which is home to daily news­pa­per the News Let­ter — has gone on the mar­ket for £21m.

Agents Lis­ney and Os­borne King said the sale of The Metro build­ing on Done­gall Square South rep­re­sents a “sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity” for buy­ers as the of­fice rental mar­ket here con­tin­ues to at­tract in­creas­ing de­mand.

It’s the lat­est ma­jor of­fice as­set to come to the mar­ket over the last few weeks, af­ter of­fices of law firm Allen & Overy in Belfast at the Obel were put up for sale for £15m.

The Metro gen­er­ates an av­er­age rent of £1.3m per year and av­er­ages al­most £17 per sq ft on the up­per floor of­fices. It also has 50 car park­ing spa­ces un­der­ground.

As well as the News Let­ter, the 70,000 sq ft of­fices are also home to Yell, Capita and sell­ing agents Os­borne King.

Nicky Fin­nieston, in­vest­ment di­rec­tor at Lis­ney, said: “The qual­ity and lo­ca­tion of The Metro Build­ing is an op­por­tu­nity to ex­ploit rental growth and should com­mand the best rents in the city.

“The Belfast of­fice mar­ket has seen prime rents move from £15 per sq ft to £21.50 over re­cent years and there are a num­ber of of­fice schemes planned where quot­ing rents will be up­wards of £23.”

The home of daily news­pa­per the News Let­ter has gone on the mar­ket for £21m. The Metro Build­ing, on Done­gall Square South, is de­scribed by sell­ing agents Lis­ney and Os­borne King as a “land­mark Grade A city cen­tre of­fice build­ing”.

De­vel­oped in 2003, the Metro is also home to ten­ants in­clud­ing Capita, Yell and sell­ing agents Os­borne King.

It fetches an av­er­age rent of £1.3m per year and av­er­ages nearly £17 per sq ft on the up­per floor of­fices.

The build­ing cov­ers 70,00sq ft and is on the mar­ket and seek­ing of­fers over £21m.

It also ben­e­fits from two lev­els of un­der­ground car park­ing to ac­com­mo­date 50 cars.

Nicky Fin­nie­stone, in­vest­ment di­rec­tor at Lis­ney, said the sale rep­re­sents a “sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity” given the de­mand and growth in the of­fice rental mar­ket here.

“The qual­ity and lo­ca­tion of The Metro Build­ing on the pres­ti­gious Done­gall Square South is an op­por­tu­nity to ex­ploit rental growth and should com­mand the best rents in the city,” he said.

“The Belfast of­fice mar­ket has seen prime rents move from £15 per sq ft to £21.50 over re­cent years and there are a num­ber of of­fice schemes planned where quot­ing rents will be up­wards of £23.

“There­fore, with av­er­age rents in the build­ing at £17 per sq ft, the pur­chaser of The Metro Build­ing will likely ex­ploit its con­sid­er­able re­ver­sion­ary po­ten­tial.”

Paul Henry, di­rec­tor of Os­borne King, added: “Re­cent sales have demon­strated a depth of de­mand for Belfast of­fices, not only from lo­cal in­vestors but from prop­erty com­pa­nies and in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment funds.

“We would there­fore ex­pect to see some com­pet­i­tive ten­sion around the sale of The Metro Build­ing as ar­guably one of Belfast’s best as­sets.”

Fac­ing Belfast City Hall and with ad­ja­cent build­ings in­clud­ing the North­ern Ire­land head­quar­ters of Bank of Ire­land, Danske Bank and Ul­ster Bank, The Metro Build­ing is lo­cated at the heart of Belfast of­fice space.

The cur­rent site was re­port­edly built at the cost of £8.2m in 2002 and was com­pleted two years later.

The nine-storey build­ing is the lat­est ma­jor in­vest­ment prop­erty to hit the mar­ket here af­ter US fund Marathon As­set Man­age­ment put of­fices at the Obel oc­cu­pied by law firm Allen & Overy on the mar­ket ear­lier this month for £15m. Marathon bought the en­tire Obel site four years ago for around £20m.

The of­fices are close to Belfast Har­bour and are also home to La­gan Boat Com­pany and Mount Charles Group, op­er­a­tor of cof­fee shop Fed & Watered on the ground floor.

The Metro on Done­gall Square South

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