CONSTRUCTION is under way on a 200,000 sq ft office development in Belfast city centre.
Co Down investment firm Wirefox is behind The Paper Exchange project on Chichester Street.
The company has described the £45 million venture as Belfast's largest speculative office development, claiming it could house up to 2,000 jobs in the centre of the city.
Revised plans to transform the Oxford and Gloucester buildings on Chichester Street into 11 storeys of grade A office space were approved in November 2019.Co Derry building firm Heron Bros has been appointed to carry out the development. Around 100 construction jobs are expected to be involved in the process, which is due to be completed by December 2021.
Set up six years ago, Holywood-based Wirefox is controlled by BJ Eastwood, the grandson of well-known businessman and former boxing promoter Barney Eastwood.
It has established itself as a significant player on the property scene, buying CastleCourt for £125m in 2017, followed by multi-million pound acquisition deals in Glasgow.
It recently moved to acquire the former War Memorial Building in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter from Liverpool developer Lawrence Kenwright.
The Paper Exchange, which has been designed by Wirefox and Todd Architects, will feature around 155,000 sq ft of flexible office space.
Wirefox's development Director, Joanne McBurney, said the mixed-use scheme represented the first significant, privately funded, speculative office development in Belfast for a generation.
“Wirefox has been investing across asset classes in Belfast since 2015 as we strongly believe it has global potential,” she said.
“Development of The Paper Exchange was initiated in order to address the lack of grade A office space available in Belfast, at a time when demand far outweighs supply.
“The Paper Exchange will represent the best office accommodation in Belfast and will attract both local and international interest, providing significant benefit to the local council and economy. We're delighted that this project is now under way.”
Savills and Colliers International have been appointed as joint letting agents to market the scheme.
Gareth Howell, divisional director at Savills, said: “A privately promoted, speculative development of this nature has been notably absent in the Belfast city centre market and as such this is a much-welcomed step by Wirefox.”
Ian Duddy, director of business space at Colliers International, added: “This exciting speculative Grade A office development will enhance the Belfast city centre office market offer and enable indigenous and international occupiers alike to grow in a world class environment in the heart of Belfast city centre.”
Brona Marshall of Todd Architects, said: “Designed as an outstanding example of innovation, light, space and sustainability, The Paper Exchange will be one of Belfast and Northern Ireland's newest and most important commercial developments.
“Its size, scale and location will provide unrivalled grade A office accommodation in a bright and contemporary structure that will set a new standard for buildings of this type in the city.”
Credit: Irish News