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CBRE : The race for space ; Office letting market heats up as investors arrive and firms expand

09/03/2015 | 01:59am US/Eastern

RENT for top-class office space in Belfast is climbing as more overseas investors arrive and local companies expand.

The latest report from real estate agents CBRE revealed a square foot of so-called "grade A" office will set you back Pounds 16.

This is a small increase from the Pounds 15.50 previously and still the lowest of major cities in the UK and Ireland.

It is enough to boost the mood of developers who are said to need to see rents of Pounds 18/sq ft before they'll consider building offices.

But signs that prices are moving higher could be enough to tempt them to consider new projects.

That would be welcome news for the economy here as large grade A offices are in short supply following a lack of development since the financial crisis. Meanwhile, CBRE said the first half of the year has been quiet in the office lettings market with just 90,000 sq ft signed in Belfast.

However, like last year, it expects activity to pick up sharply in the second half. The market for retail lettings has been busy over the summer with a number of new entrants looking at opportunities and a number of new store openings.

GAP has recently launched its new flagship outlet on Donegall Place and there is due to be a raft of new openings at CastleCourt including new entrants to Ulster - Schuh Kids and Yours Clothing.

Other significant transactions include Sketchers which is launching two new stores in Belfast and Craigavon with further opening planned for 2016. And DW Sports will bring their new flagship to Belfast.

Notable investment transactions that have happened in 2015 include the sale of Valley Retail Park, Tesco Express and Urban Pharmacy on the Dublin Road and Lisburn Square.

There are also a number of sites for sale such as Junction One in Antrim The Outlet in Banbridge and Bangor's Bloomfield Shopping Centre.

CBRE's Brian Lavery said the likely delay to the devolution of corporation tax setting powers to Stormont hasn't helped the commercial property market.

He added: "This is highly unfortunate given the extent to which this could have generated jobs and improved appetite for office accommodation across the region."

(c) 2015 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved., source Newspapers

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