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Wirefox fires up Belfast plans to deliver £70m Grade A office scheme in 2022

Construction already under way and funding firmly secured to deliver landmark 200,000 sq. ft in Belfast city centre

Plans to create a transformative 200,000 sq. ft Grade A professional office development in Belfast city centre that will accommodate up to 2,000 employees are firmly on track for delivery towards the end of 2022, it was confirmed today.

In a major confidence boost for Belfast and for local jobs, Wirefox, the urban investment company spearheading the scheme, said the project remained on target following commitment of a £20m loan facility by the Northern Ireland Investment Fund to fully ensure its completion and market delivery.

With an anticipated market value of more than £70m, construction work on The Paper Exchange, which is located at 43-63 Chichester Street – just steps from Belfast City Hall – got under way earlier this year and will continue until the scheme is ready for occupation in just two years’ time.

Leading local construction firm Heron Bros Ltd was awarded the contract to complete the landmark 11-storey development, securing jobs for 100 employees during the entire build phase.

Designed by TODD Architects, The Paper Exchange will pioneer and deliver a suite of new technical, environmental and sustainable standards for professional office developments in Belfast, guaranteeing best-in-class spacious and flexible accommodation for a new generation. Prioritising safety and wellbeing, it promises a significant city centre asset that will help shape the city’s positive international profile and future economic performance.

Joanne McBurney, Development Director, Wirefox, said:

“On track and firmly secured, we’re delighted to reiterate and guarantee full delivery of The Paper Exchange in 2022, which secures unrivalled first-class professional accommodation for the city and Northern Ireland. Carefully designed for forward-thinking local, national and international occupiers, its space, light and environmental and sustainable standards are second to none. Its delivery will also accurately capture the anticipated demand for quality and performance.”

The state-of-the-art office development will feature an eye-catching double height entrance lobby, floor to ceiling glazing, seven high-speed lifts, a 4,000 sq. ft. private outdoor terrace, space for 85 bicycle racks and dedicated showering and changing facilities. Two ground floor units have also been earmarked for retail and restaurant use. A total of 150,000 sq. ft of flexible office accommodation will be available once complete as part of the entire 200,000 sq. ft mixed-use scheme.

“In a new era that demands new thinking and precision future planning, The Paper Exchange will provide Belfast with an additional and compelling asset on which to compete on a global scale, helping to secure a decade of investment and focused city regeneration,” Joanne McBurney said. “Its presence also complements and enhances a city confidently preparing for a well-connected future and supports the development of many other transformative projects under way or being considered.”

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy welcomed the development.

“At what is a challenging time for our economy, this investment, underpinned by Executive support in the form of Financial Transactions Capital will benefit the local construction sector and help boost inward investment. I congratulate all those involved in bringing this project to fruition,” he said.

The Northern Ireland Investment Fund is a £100m Fund which provides debt finance for real estate, regeneration, low carbon and infrastructure projects across Northern Ireland. The Fund is managed by CBRE’s Investment Advisory team, part of CBRE Capital Advisors. CBRE is currently progressing funding applications across a range of sectors throughout Northern Ireland.

Will Church, Senior Director, CBRE Capital Advisors commented:

“We are delighted that the Northern Ireland Investment Fund was able to fill the funding void left because of the Covid-19 pandemic and enable development to continue at this flagship site. The development draws major foreign investment into Northern Ireland at a critical period for the economy.

“The scheme will stimulate jobs, create quality energy efficient employment space as well as regenerating land in Belfast. This is a demonstration of exactly what the Northern Ireland Investment Fund has been set up to do. The Fund remains open for business and we are welcoming applications.”

Located in the heart of Belfast city centre, the mixed-use development replaces the outdated Oxford and Gloucester House buildings which Wirefox acquired in 2016. It also encompasses an adjacent, vacant site which it acquired in the same year. Savills and Colliers International have been appointed as joint letting agents to market the scheme, which was first awarded planning approval in 2018.

Ready for completion in 2022, The Paper Exchange respects and reflects the city’s proud history and heritage in the craftsmanship and manufacturing of linen, rope and paper in a new, contemporary way.

Design images provide an insight into the high specification, light-filled scheme, which incorporates floor-to-ceiling views, natural stone and porcelain floorings, brush gold, bronze and brass fittings in addition to materials and systems deployed to reduce energy consumption and dramatically improve environmental performance against exacting industry standards.

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