CORK’S largest private employer, Apple with 6,000+ workers, has been in the hunt for a significant new office presence in the city’s docklands, one capable of holding up to 1,000 staff.
Apple’s search was very active up to March of this year, when Covid-19 hit, offices globally were termporarily abandoned and the Apple search in the city - where it has operated since 1980 - hit the ‘pause’ button.
What level it picks up at again is as-yet uncertain, as companies everywhere reassess their office and space needs, and as ‘hybrid’ working mixing office and ‘work from home’ is touted as a new business model.
However, informed business sources indicate that Apple had a live office need inquiry for Cork for up to or over 100,000 sq ft coming into 2020/21
It invested €220 million in its Hollyhill EMEA HQ in recent years, to accommodate 1,400 extra staff, and also has c 700 employees at a downtown centre, on Half Moon Street.
Incredibly, the city's largest private-sector employer now has close to one million sq ft of office and production buildings in Cork.
The further space it now has sought in the city’s docklands, c100,000 sq ft, is on a par and same size scale as that revealed last month for another global business giant already active in Cork, Amazon, who have significant space needs in both Dublin and Cork despite (or, perhaps because of) the global pandemic.
Seeking to add 1,000 extra Irish staff in Dublin and Cork by 2022, Amazon has appointed Dublin-based agents JLL to source them a substantial new Cork office building, and 100,000 sq ft is the largest office requirement in Cork for a number of years.
Now, in a double ‘AA’ rating for Cork, Amazon may be joined by Apple in the hunt for offices.
Given the pipeline of supply one million sq ft coming onstream in the city, they can have the pick of locations, on the north and south quays, with at least three rival developers who may seek to seal a deal on a dockland Apple campus.
The front runners are O’Callaghan Properties at Navigation Square, just east of City Hall and One Albert Quay; BAM/Clarendon at Horgans Quay/HQ by Kent Rail Station where 300,000 sq ft of offices are due as part of a major €200m mixed-use development, with its Dean Hotel now open; also, JCD at Penrose Dock, where the 250,000 sq ft development is 80% occupied, but which has a further site alongside with planning secured for two similar blocks.
It’s understood that Apple’s primary focus at the start of 2020 was OCP’s 350,000 sq ft Navigation Square on the south quays, where the largest building, the 125,000 sq ft Block A, is now occupied by US-based finance firm Clearstream DB, who have options on the space they don’t already occupy.
Block B, with 75,000 sq ft, is built and ready for a tenant fit-out and is known to have attracted Apple’s interest. Block C behind will be a further 35,000 sq ft and Block D will be 95,000 sq ft.
Construction of Navigation Square’s blocks C and D were provisionally slated for Summer 2021, dependant on the recovery in office demand after a Covid-19 vaccine rolls out. Letting agents are Savills and CBRE.
Cork currently has one million square feet of offices in the pipeline, with the Port of Cork activity move downriver set to free up many more valuable acres for mixed uses, including residential and offices.
Apple’s initial 2020 request for 100,000 sq ft of city/dockland offices may yet be tempered or time-adjusted by the Coronavirus fallout.
It’s not yet certain if Amazon’s recently-revealed need for 100,000 sq ft of offices inis in addition to the 95,000 sq ft Amazon currently occupies across three buildings at Cork Airport Business Park.
Similarly, it’s not clarified if Apple’s significant matching space request in Cork city is in addition to the 55,000 sq ft it has grown to occupy at Half Moon Street since 2010, employing up to 700 there.
Half Moon Street was developed by O’Callaghan Properties in the mid-2000s, and was sold over a year ago to US-basedfor over €35 million.
Neither Apple nor O'Callaghan Properties would comment on Irish Examiner queries regarding the company's Cork office expansion plans.