Take-up in the Irish office markets was robust in 2019, standing at 4.1m sq ft and only 5 percent below the five-year average according to our 2020 Ireland Office Market Report.
However, below average take-up in both of the Dublin markets weighed on total activity, with take-up in the other markets either in line with or above average.
New build office development across Ireland reached a new high in 2019, with total space under construction standing at 9.2m sq ft and 22% above 2018. With the exception of Cork, all locations saw a rise in development activity during 2019.
Compared with 2018, 2019 was a quieter but nonetheless solid year for the Irish office markets. As the Brexit process moves on, Ireland presents a unique opportunity for occupiers who wish to have both a UK and EU base on the same island.
The standout deal of 2019 was tech firm Salesforce’s 430,000 sq ft pre-let of Salesforce Tower. Located in Dublin’s Silicon Docks area, the four interconnected buildings will bring all employees together on one campus and provide scope for the planned growth of a further 1,500 employees.
With cranes on the skyline in Belfast and Dublin, it follows that the largest deals were for new build or extensively refurbished property. The Central Bank of Ireland acquired Blocks 4 and 5 Dublin Landings (210,000 sq ft), the Office of Public Works pre-let the Distillers Building (180,000 sq ft) and Amazon pre-let Charlemont Square (170,125 sq ft). In Belfast, the top deals were all pre-lets including Deloitte at The Ewart (80,000 sq ft), Rapid7 at Chichester House (47,651 sq ft) and PwC at Merchant Square (46,000 sq ft).
Stuart Draffin, Head of Agency - Belfast, said: “Amid all of the uncertainty that Brexit has caused, the shifting political and regulatory landscape also presents an opportunity in the island of Ireland. As the only location that can offer businesses a base in both the UK and the EU occupiers have taken the opportunity to Brexit-proof locating in both Belfast and Dublin. Serviced office operators have reported increased enquiries from occupiers wishing to set up a satellite office in Belfast or Dublin, particularly from tech firms who often test the market from flexible office space.”
Greg Henry, Director of Agency said: “The COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on both the occupier and investment market. Currently the busy start to the year continues, with the vast majority of occupier and investment deals already in legals moving forward and a healthy occupier requirements book. We are, however, expecting a slowdown in activity over the coming months as the UK and Irish Governments continue to place further restrictions on the movement of people.
Mr Henry continued: “We expect demand from both occupiers and investors will bounce back in the second half of the year.”
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