AMID a boom in flexible workspace fueled by the pandemic, Iconic Offices has not ruled out further expansion in Cork as it beds into Navigation Square in preparation for a September opening.
The company, which specialises in providing flexible workspace, is currently fitting out a floor at Navigation Square 2 (NSQ2), where it has taken out a 25-year lease. Iconic will be the first tenant in the second block of the €90m O’Callaghan Properties (OCP) Albert Quay development, with confirmation last month that global tech company NetApp is also moving in to open its first international HQ outside of Silicon Valley.
Iconic Offices founder and CEO, Joe McGinley, said the plan was to “prove ourselves in the Cork market, and to leverage off that to build our offering in the city...hopefully at an additional, larger location”.
“We’ll be looking to expand our footprint in Cork as soon as possible, and we’ll be looking at the very high end of the market,” he said.
However choice was limited because “while it looks like a lot of office product is being built in the city, actually, it’s not”, Mr McGinley said. He ruled out taking space at the Beamish Counting House on South Main Street, which contains 70,000 sq ft of Grade A offices as part of a €30 Bam development, saying it “just wasn’t the right location”.
The decision to move into NSQ2 – the company’s first location outside of Dublin – was because the Henry J Lyons-designed, Bam-built Navigation Square was “the last chance to get into a prime location”, Mr McGinley said, adding that “it will be another two years before any new office space comes on stream in Cork”.
Across the river, a second state-of-the-art office block is under construction at Horgan's Quay (Clarendon Properties/Bam) but is expected to take another 12 months to complete. Tech giant Apple and Spaces, another flexible workplace provider, are tenants in No 1 Horgan's Quay.
Also under construction is the €20 Prism office development near the city's bus station.
Of Albert Quay Mr McGinley said: “It’s a great location, it looks like the city is going to expand out in that direction.” Plans to expand were announced by OCP late last year, where the proposal is for a €350m overhaul of the South Docks. A decision is imminent on phase one of the proposed mixed-use development.
OCP is also due to make a decision on the continued development of Navigation Square where there are plans for two more blocks. A spokesperson for the company said while NSQ3 and 4 remain “under review” they are “at advanced stages of costing at this point”. Now that NSQ2 is 55% let (Iconic Offices has taken 15,000 sq ft and NetApp has taken double that), it might speed up the decision on the remaining blocks.
Mr McGinley has not ruled out taking floors in future NSQ blocks.
The growth in demand for flexible workspaces – reflected in Iconic Offices expansion to 18 locations – has been hastened by a rethink of the workplace on foot of the pandemic, and in the face of ongoing economic uncertainty.
Iconic Offices, which has 300 plus business customers and 3,000 plus members, offers top-of-the-range workspaces, flexible contracts (from as little as one month) and the ability to scale up or down depending on a company’s requirements. Mr McGinely said most sign 12 month contracts and the average team size ranges from 10-30 people, with one Irish company looking to accommodate 300 staff.
While FDI firms (Foreign Direct Investment) were a huge part of Iconic Offices’ business prior to the pandemic, “post-Covid, that’s kind of flipped”, Mr McGinley said, with a far higher proportion now of indigenous companies.
Pricing at NSQ2 will be from €199 per workstation per month for co-working and €430 per workstation per month for offices.
The most recent set of audited accounts filed by the company are for 2020 and they show a turnover of €16m. Mr McGinley said they are forecasting €17.5m for 2022.
Included in the Iconic Offices offering are fully-furnished office suites with access to breakout areas/fitted kitchens/business lounges/podcast lounge/showers. They are also "dog-friendly".
Fit-out, which is currently underway, is by RCBS Fitout Ltd.