10 September 2020 News
Corporate law firm A&L Goodbody (ALG) has advised local property development firm Oakland Holdings on the redevelopment, letting and refinancing of Merchant Square. The prime Grade A office development in Belfast city centre was recently handed over to PwC to commence its fit out.
The letting to PwC is the largest ever private sector office letting recorded in Northern Ireland and is second only to PwC's headquarters in London.
The redevelopment project and letting to PwC was led by ALG’s Head of Property, Tracey Schofield, with the refinancing by Finance Partner Judith Brown in the firm’s Belfast office.
Tracey Schofield said: “We are proud to have supported Oakland Holdings through all the stages in the evolution of Merchant Square; from initial acquisition in 2008, asset management, redevelopment, letting and refinancing. We are delighted for our client that its long-term investment and commitment has been rewarded in this way.
“The development signifies a vote of confidence in the local commercial real estate sector during challenging and uncertain times. A major landmark in the regeneration and revitalisation of Belfast city centre, it's encouraging to see a global occupier in PwC commit its long-term future to the city at this outstanding, innovative and state-of-the-art premises.”
Construction work at the city centre development began in 2018, with the ten-storey building comprising 230,000 sq ft of grade A office accommodation, retail and restaurants set in the heart of Belfast’s business district.
Its funding vehicle was a combination of private investment by Oakland Holdings itself as well as loans from Fairfield Real Estate and the Northern Ireland Investment Fund.
Merchant Square was the Northern Ireland Investment Fund’s first investment following its launch in 2017. The initiative, which provides debt funding for commercial property, regeneration and low carbon projects in Northern Ireland, is managed by commercial real estate agency CBRE.
Last year, PwC announced its plans to make Merchant Square its new headquarters in Belfast, where it will centralise its Northern Ireland operations and eventually become home to 3,000 staff as employees begin returning to the office.
Tracey Schofield, Head of Property, A&L Goodbody's Belfast office