Work has started on the refurbishment and development of Chichester House in Belfast, which will be the first Grade A office project in the city to have guaranteed internet connectivity.
Chichester House, which is in a prime central location fronting Chichester Street, will bring 46,000 sq ft of top quality 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 project represents an overall investment of £8 million and will create 150 jobs in the build phase, with completion expected in late 2018.
Chichester House will also be the first building in Belfast to be rated by WiredScore, an innovative, internationally recognised commercial real estate rating system for digital connectivity.
Wired Certification enables agents and tenants to find accurate and detailed information about a building’s digital infrastructure and gives landlords an independent means of improving and promoting their buildings’ capabilities in a transparent way.
Damian Mitchell, property director at Causeway Asset Management, 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 innovative ‘Future-Fit Space’ concept, which puts connectivity and technological building advancements at the forefront of building design. The site is being developed on-spec but the concept is already proving attractive to a number of potential tenants.
“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,” said Damian Mitchell.
“It is not easy for letting agents and tenants to find accurate and detailed information about a building’s digital infrastructure but with Chichester House they will soon be able to download a connectivity fact sheet and compare it to all other Wired Certified buildings in the world. It is this type of information which some foreign direct investors require when considering whether to Invest in NI as opposed other worldwide competing cities.”
WiredScore started in New York and major US cities and has since become a benchmark in Europe after being taken up by investors, landlords and tenant companies in Paris, London, Manchester, Dublin and most recently Berlin. Causeway Asset Management believes that being first to adopt Wired Certification in Northern Ireland will provide added attraction for global companies considering investment in Belfast.
William Newton, president and EMEA MD at WiredScore, said: “It is fantastic to see Causeway Asset Management’s strong commitment to enhance connectivity in their building and we are delighted to start the certification process of Chichester House. Future-proofing the digital infrastructure of their building will be central to meeting their tenants’ evolving digital needs.”
Lisney and Lambert Smith Hampton have been appointed joint letting agents on the building.
Lloyd Hannigan from Lisney said: “Lisney is delighted not only to be involved with marketing a high specification city centre scheme but also to have been appointed by such a dynamic, forward thinking developer. 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.
“The advantages for companies locating in Belfast versus other regional UK cities are well documented and the availability of the city’s first Wired Score certified building will prove to be a further tool in luring office occupiers to the city.”
Greg Henry from Lambert Smith Hampton said: “Chichester House represents the future of offices in Belfast and it is brilliant to see work getting underway. 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, with additional premium ground floor retail expected to blend seamlessly with the contemporary office architecture of the seven upper floors. Further information can be obtained by visiting www.chichesterhouse.com