Office block rated for internet connectivity

An £8m (€9.1m) office and retail block in Belfast will be the first Grade A development to have guaranteed internet connectivity, those behind the project have said.

Greg Henry from Lambert Smith Hampton, Damian Mitchell, property director at Causeway Asset Management, and Lloyd Hannigan from Lisney.

Work has begun on Chichester House — which is in a prime central location fronting Chichester Street — which will bring 46,000 sq ft of office and 5,000 sq ft of modern retail space to the market, following a full redevelopment of the building’s existing six storeys, an extension to the rear and the addition of two new floors.

The €8m investment will create 150 jobs in construction, and completion is expected in late 2018. It will be the first building in Belfast to be rated by WiredScore, an internationally recognised commercial real estate rating system for digital connectivity.

Property director at Causeway Asset Management, Damian Mitchell said: “Internet speed and reliability is one of the three most important factors for tenants searching for office space, along with cost and location. In fact, for many businesses, digital connectivity is as important as mains electricity and running water. But up to now there has been very little information available to tenants in Northern Ireland about the quality of internet connectivity in office spaces.”

Chichester House will be the first flagship project for Causeway Asset Management’s Future-Fit Space concept, which the company says “puts connectivity and technological building advancements at the forefront of building design”.

“Chichester House will be an office space fit for the future, with guaranteed connectivity. We are excited that it will be the first building in Belfast to provide this assurance to potential tenants and believe that rating buildings using this transparent system will set a new standard in Grade A offices in Belfast,” Mr Mitchell added.

WireScore was founded in New York in 2013 by leaders in real estate, technology and telecommunications, with an endorsement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to improve the city’s technology infrastructure, and support its entrepreneurs who are driving technological advances and creating jobs.

It has since become a benchmark in major US cities and Europe after being taken up by investors, landlords and tenant companies in Paris, London, Manchester, Dublin and most recently Berlin. Causeway Asset Management said it believed being first to adopt Wired Certification in Northern Ireland would provide added attraction for global companies considering investment in Belfast.

Lisney and Lambert Smith Hampton have been appointed joint letting agents on the building. Lloyd Hannigan from Lisney said: “Belfast is presently a hotbed of activity for the fintech and cyber security companies so it is encouraging to see a developer who is prepared to embrace the change in Belfast’s occupier market by future proofing their buildings ensuring top class digital connectivity.”

Greg Henry from Lambert Smith Hampton said: “This concept is a great step forward for the city and it will put the Grade A space on a par with what is available in some of the most advanced cities in the world. We are encouraged by the level of pre-launch interest and anticipate that this will convert into occupiers within the coming weeks.”

Existing tenants Boojum will remain in their ground floor unit at Chichester House.

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